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Diagnostic imaging

Digital MRI improves image clarity, patient throughput

TORONTO – Health Canada has approved Philips’s new Ingenia MR solution, which is said to be the first-ever digital broadband MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) system. Until now, all MRI systems have used analog components for the signal acquisition and processing needed to generate patient images. However, the use of analog components during these processes has limited the upper reaches of image clarity and quality.

Clinicians have long relied on MRI for its exceptional ability to differentiate various soft tissues. The new all-digital Ingenia from Philips – available in 1.5T and 3T field strengths – has a number of leading-edge benefits, the company said.

The Ingenia MR system introduces, for the first time in MRI, digital signal acquisition and processing directly in the radio frequency (RF) receive coil nearest to the patient. By digitizing the signal directly in the RF receive coil and maintaining the digital connection throughout the entire MRI scanning process, Ingenia is able to generate up to a 40 percent improvement in signal-to-noise ratio.

Improving signal-to-noise ratio enables the delivery of crisp image clarity that clinicians need to help make informed decisions possible for a wider range of clinical procedures, including traditional applications like neuro and musculoskeletal and fast-growing applications like body and cardiac.

Ingenia’s digital capabilities also overcome many of the limitations typical of analog based systems. Similar to the transition from limited-channel analog television to unlimited-channel digital broadband HD television, the digital signal acquisition and transmission capability of Ingenia is independent of the number of channels.

Unlike fixed channel analog systems, users can add new and future clinical applications, which may require higher channel coils, in an easy and cost-effective way, the company said.

In addition, if a higher channel coil is required for a clinical procedure, Ingenia’s channel independent architecture is capable of performing the exam simply by adding the coil, and without requiring expensive hardware and software upgrades to the MRI system. This gives hospitals the flexibility they need to stay on the clinical cutting edge, now and in the future.

The posterior coil, used routinely in about 60% of all applications, is integrated under the patient table and covers from neck to toe for either feet-first or head first imaging. The posterior coil is not physically visible to the operator or patient and is deployed automatically according the demands of the application.

As a result to this innovative design, the posterior coil does not need to be carried, positioned, connected or exchanged, thereby greatly simplifying the workflow. It is always there when needed without occupying additional space within the patient bore.

The anterior coils – placed on top of the patient – are lightweight and flexibly conform to the patient shape which allows the coil to be as close as possible to the target anatomy.

This facilitates ease of handling, patient comfort and outstanding performance, the company said. Moreover, during the examination, the system automatically selects those coils and elements which contribute to the highest SNR within the selected field of-view (SmartSelect). SmartSelect also increases the reproducibility and consistency across scans.

The innovative design of the coils leads to an improvement in patient throughput time of up to 30 percent, according to Philips. For more information, see:

Posted February 24, 2011