By Jenny Lower

Despite improvements in MRI technology, the one constant drawback has been the earsplitting banging—often as loud as a rock concert or jackhammer—that can unsettle patients already nervous about their procedures. However, the next generation of MRI innovations attempts to minimize patient discomfort—whether by reducing the sound to background levels or by allowing patients to breathe freely instead of holding their breath. At RSNA 2013, MRI vendors showcased numerous solutions to enhance the patient experience while delivering high-quality images.

GE Heathcare’s DV24.0 with Silent Scan

At RSNA 2013, GE debuted its DV24.0 Continuum Pak which includes Silent Scan for the company’s Optima MR450w, Optima MR450w with GEM, Discovery MR750 and Discovery MR750w with GEM scanners. In addition to productivity improvements, the software package advances clinical capabilities for MR. For example, PROMO, a real-time motion correction technique, improves 3D imaging by automatically compensating for head motion. GE’s FOCUS provides high-resolution, organ-specific Diffusion-Weighted Imaging (DWI) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) for a small field of view. MAVRIC SL, a new technique designed for imaging the joints of patients with MR conditional implants, is also featured in DV24.0 and is setting new standards in musculoskeletal radiology.

Finally, Silent Scan quiets scanner volume that typically hits 110 decibels. About 30% of all MRI procedures are neurological exams that place the patient’s head inside the bore. High acoustic levels not only contribute to patient anxiety, but also can interfere with communication between the technologist and patient and can prolong exam times. Silent Scan reduces the MR scanner’s auditory emissions to 3 decibels above ambient noise levels to improve patient experience. Instead of the traditional approach of muffling the noise generated when the system’s magnetic field and its mechanical parts interact, Silent Scan avoids rapidly turning the gradients on and off, eliminating mechanical vibration altogether. Clinicians can scan patients with the technology using T1, PD, and Propeller motion-insensitive-based implementation of T2 and FLAIR as part of the Silent Neuro exam package.

Siemens StarVIBE, TWIST-VIBE, and Quiet Suite

The 510(k)-cleared FREEZEit package from Siemens includes two new technologies for the MAGNETOM Skyra 3T and MAGNETOM Area 1.5T MRI systems to improve liver imaging. Since each breath shifts the liver approximately 2.5 cm, normal breathing motion during MRI can create artifacts that blur the captured image and complicate a diagnosis. The StarVIBE MR pulse sequence caters to elderly and very young patients by enabling free-breathing, contrast-enhanced liver imaging. In addition, the TWIST-VIBE MR sequence improves dynamic liver MRI by allowing clinicians to capture a series of images with 4D coverage. By ensuring that clinicians pinpoint the right moment of contrast enhancement within the arterial phase, the technology provides better visibility of lesions and ultimately a more accurate diagnosis. Along with improvements to image quality, Siemens also has introduced the Quiet Suite of applications, which reduces sound pressure by 70% for neurological and musculoskeletal examinations. Quiet Suite is available for the MAGNETOM Skyra 3T and MAGNETOM Area 1.5T.

Toshiba Vantage Titan MR Upgrades

Toshiba introduced its Rapid Transport System for MRI at RSNA 2013

Toshiba introduced its Rapid Transport System for MRI at RSNA 2013

A variety of hardware upgrades to the Vantage Titan MR 1.5T and 3T systems improve the MR system’s workflow and image quality. High-density, lightweight 16ch Flex Speeder coils conform to the patient’s anatomy for improved signal-to-noise ratio and image quality. The coils come in both medium and large sizes for general orthopedic and body imaging. A 32ch Head Speeder coil designed for high-end 3T imaging neurological applications like fMRI and Diffusion Tensor Imaging offers high signal-to-noise ratio, along with high spatial and temporal resolution. To speed workflow and improve patient safety, Toshiba has introduced a Rapid Transport System that fits over the MR system’s couch, allowing patients to remain on one table throughout transport and their imaging procedure.

For neurological imaging, Toshiba has introduced a suite of software enhancements for the 1.5T and 3T systems. The Time-Spatial Labeling Inversion Pulse (Time-SLIP) allows clinicians to visualize cerebrospinal fluid movement through noninvasive, noncontrast procedures, offering a faster and safer way to capture diagnostic information. With the help of 3D Arterial Spin Labeling (ASL), the brain’s blood flow and perfusion characteristic can be evaluated without contrast via a single scan. The Research Sequence Development Environment (RSDE) tool also allows researchers to create their own pulse sequences to investigate new applications for MR technology.

Philips Ingenia Software Enhancements 

Upgraded applications for the Ingenia MR—the first digital broadband MR— include Premium image quality (Premium IQ) to produce clearer image quality and rapidly capture more diagnostic information. The iPatient platform provides image consistency across multiple technicians, offering advanced MR in the fields of neurology, oncology, and cardiology.