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Spacious and accurate MRI machines of the future

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MRI scan innovation delivers more accurate diagnoses

Innovative new technology could help doctors make more accurate diagnoses, by eliminating distortions and blurriness in images from magnetic resonance imaging.

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology has revolutionised medical diagnostics, without the need for invasive procedures. The scanning technique works by using strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. The quality of these MRI images however relies heavily on the homogeneity of the background magnetic field. Magnetic homogeneity refers to how consistent the magnetic field is over the field of view. Low levels of homogeneity can lead to blurred images or poor resolution, thus making it harder for medical professionals to make accurate diagnoses.

Stabilising MRI background magnetic field

Recognising that such limitations have long hindered the full potential of MRI for non-invasive diagnostics, German start-up MR Shim set about developing a solution to stabilise the MRI background magnetic field. “Existing technology used for magnetic field homogenisation is now over 30 years old,” explains SPAC MRI project coordinator Sahar Nassirpour from MR Shim in Germany. “This often doesn’t prevent distorted or blurred images.” The company’s innovation, which comes in the form of a hardware / software add-on, addresses this by using an array of small coils. By generating their own magnetic field, these coils are able to cancel out field distortions in MRI scanners. “These coils are more than 50 times smaller than the ones that current technologies use, and can adjust the magnetic field in real time,” says Nassirpour. “They are able to homogenise the magnetic field with unparalleled accuracy.” The small size of these coils also means that there is potential to have more space within the MRI scanner, making the experience more pleasant and less frightening for patients.

Outperforming current homogenisation methods

In order to bring this innovation into clinical settings, the technology needed to be validated. This was the primary objective of the EU-funded SPAC MRI project. To achieve this, the project formed partnerships with MRI sites at clinics and hospitals, and acquired data from different brain and body imaging applications. Controlled comparison studies were designed to evaluate the technical and clinical advantages of the device. “The results were highly promising, demonstrating a substantial improvement in magnetic field homogeneity,” adds Nassirpour. “This directly translated into superior MRI image quality. Through this project, we were able to show that our innovation addresses the limitations of current methods, and offers robust and precise control over the MRI magnetic field.”

More precise understanding of the human body

Next steps will include dissemination of the project’s results to stakeholders in the medical and health arena, in order to further raise awareness. “This will help to consolidate our position in the market as a facilitator of non-invasive diagnosis with unparalleled precision,” notes Nassirpour. The project team also hopes that the technology will benefit researchers, by enabling them to acquire higher-quality data and conduct more accurate studies. This could open up new avenues of research, and enable a more precise understanding of the human body. “With these project results, we now have a clear path ahead towards commercialisation,” says Nassirpour. “This will provide researchers and healthcare professionals with a powerful new tool in clinical diagnosis.”


SPAC MRI, MRI, medical, diagnoses, magnetic, clinical, healthcare

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