MRI’s holy grail: Sharper image quality, shorter scan time, higher productivity and better workflow
If there is one constant theme among MRI vendors at ECR 2020, it is the need for speed. More precisely, their focus is on ways to help clinicians shorten overall scan time and successfully achieve diagnostic image quality with fewer procedural steps. By doing so, radiology departments and imaging centres can provide often critical results to more patients, while simultaneously accelerating their workflow. In the end, this heightened productivity reaps economic rewards.
Clinicians always face the inherent issue of how best to achieve image quality within a certain MRI scan time. While extended time in the scanner can achieve more detailed results through better signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and/or spatial resolution, it can be a challenge for some patients to remain still and quiet.
Hitachi Medical Systems Europe brings to ECR 2020 a new version of its Oasis 1.2 Tesla open MRI scanner. Among the novel features on the open architecture, vertical-field device is Radar motion compensation technology for any MR imaging sequence, coil, and plane. Radar targets patients who cannot remain still for their scans and, by enhancing SNR and contrast-to-noise ratio, reduces motion artefacts. The scanner also offers a per-patient high order shimming system that acquires a phase map across the entire field-of-view to achieve the highest possible homogeneity for a number of clinical applications, such as neuro and body imaging, according to the vendor.
Also, SoftSound technology helps to reduce the sound from Hitachi’s open MRI systems, while the company’s SynergyDrive aims to accelerate workflow and offer an automation package to streamline the examination process to enhance productivity.
Siemens Healthineers’ MRI offerings at ECR 2020 include the AI-Rad Companion software assistant for brain and prostate applications.
The brain software for morphometric analysis supports brain volumetry, which is performed in cases of suspected dementia. Based on artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, the software is designed to automatically identify approximately 50 brain segments and measure grey matter, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid volumes. It then compares those results to normal volumes available in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database.
The prostate software for biopsy support automatically segments the outer contour of the prostate, which potentially could reduce the time for this routine procedure to seconds. With this software assistant, a radiologist marks the regions-of-interest and sends the annotated MR images to the urologist for fusion with the ultrasound images during the biopsy. The targeted, MRI-supported biopsies help the urologist to better detect significant prostate carcinomas and improve the quality of patient care, Siemens stated.
Both AI-Rad Companion software assistants can be used on MRI scanners from different manufacturers, and they are cloud-based and use the certified, secure teamplay infrastructure, which is compliant with European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the vendor added.
Canon Medical Systems is displaying its Deep Learning Reconstruction (DLR) technology through the Advanced intelligent Clear IQ Engine (AiCE), which features a deep-learning neural network trained on vast amounts of image data in order to distinguish true signal from noise. By removing noise from MR images, AiCE can increase the signal-to-noise-ratio and give clinicians a choice of higher resolution, sharper images or abbreviated scan times, according to the company.
Canon is also showcasing its Compressed Speeder MR technology as another approach to reduced scan time, while maintaining clear image resolution. This tool can help clinicians avoid artefacts, having the ability to accelerate scan times by a factor of up to four for higher efficiency and improved patient experience, stated the firm. Both Compressed Speeder MR and AiCE are available on the Vantage Galan 3 Tesla and Vantage Orian 1.5 Tesla scanners.
Philips Healthcare is promoting its Compressed SENSE scan acceleration protocol. It is designed to help users perform more scans in the same amount of time in order to promote workflow by as much as 50%, according to Philips. Combining with Compressed SENSE are the company’s latest workflow products: VitalEye, VitalScreen, and SmartExam. They help to expedite patient preparation in the imaging suite and automate scanning to reduce stress among staff by simplifying the number of workflow steps, noted the firm.
In particular, SmartWorkflow technology guides patient setup, which can be completed in less than one minute, so radiographers can begin imaging more quickly and proceed with a fully automated MRI exam, it stated. All of the features are available on the Ambition 1.5 Tesla MRI platform, which features the company’s BlueSeal magnet for helium-free operation.
GE Healthcare is again highlighting its adaptive imaging receive (AIR) coil technology. AIR Recon DL is an image reconstruction technique based on GE’s Edison deep-learning platform. The deep-learning image reconstruction application was developed using a neural network trained on tens of thousands of images from GE’s Edison AI platform to reconstruct the good signal and not the noise.
The AIR Recon DL can help improve signal to noise ratio and image sharpness, thereby enhancing spatial resolution, removing some artefacts, and reducing acquisition time, according to Dr. Pascal Roux, a radiologist at Centre Cardiologique du Nord in Paris, one of the first clinical sites to evaluate a prototype version of the tool.
Esaote’s booth features the latest version of the weight-bearing G-scan Brio for musculoskeletal applications and the O-scan premium for extremity imaging. The systems’ ergonomic, open design are designed for patient comfort, while the devices themselves are built for imaging sites looking for enhanced throughput, improved workflow, and advanced applications. The O-scan’s dynamic MRI feature can reveal occult impingements that are difficult or impossible to see with standard static MRI, while functional assessment provides an additional tool to improve patient care in particular in high-level sports medicine, according to the vendor.