CHICAGO - Marconi Medical Systems of Cleveland (formerly Picker International) plans to enter the market for very-high-field MRI scanners with a new 3-tesla system the company is showing at this week’s RSNA conference. Marconi developed the work-in-progress scanner, called Orion, with technology acquired through its purchase of Surrey Medical Imaging Systems (SMIS) earlier this year.
Orion will be a whole-body system optimized for neurological imaging work, according to Robert Gylling, general manager of Marconi’s MRI division. While most very-high-field MRI scanning to date has focused solely on neuroimaging, Marconi believes the technology can also be useful for general imaging applications.
SMIS historically has concentrated on very-high-field imaging, and Marconi acquired an installed base of one 3-tesla scanner and three 4.7-tesla units when it bought the U.K. company. Expertise developed by SMIS was instrumental in the design of Orion, Gylling said.
Orion features the same PD 350 gradients used on Marconi’s 1.5-tesla Eclipse scanner. The gradients have peak ratings of 30 millitesla/meter, with a 120 mtesla/m/millisecond slew rate. But the company is developing gradients optimized for neuroimaging that feature a 60 mtesla/m peak rating and a 400 mtesla/m/ms slew rate.
While very-high-field MRI has been used mostly for research applications, vendors are beginning to introduce scanners designed for clinical use as well. Both GE and Siemens are showing very-high-field scanners at this week’s meeting. In addition to the better image quality of the systems, the new introductions are being driven by the FDA’s tacit approval of very-high-field scanners for clinical use.
Marconi believes that very-high-field scanners will be used for most advanced neuroimaging applications in the near future, according to Gylling. Eventually, they could become the technique of choice for advanced whole body imaging as well, he said.By AuntMinnie.com staff writers
December 2, 1999
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