New MRI Technology: Better imaging for heart patients

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:
Seven minute MRI
Seven minute MRI. Photo via Ivanhoe Newswire.

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, uses a magnetic field to produce images of the inside of the body. Doctors use it to diagnose cancer, internal injuries, or heart disease. Now, new MRI technology is making it easier than ever before for patients to benefit from the screening.

If you’ve ever needed an MRI, you know how confining it can feel. Now, a new FDA-approved, full-body MRI is being used for the first time in the U.S. The Magnetom Free Max has the largest opening of any MRI, expanding access for patients with severe claustrophobia or obesity.

Director of Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging Research at The Ohio State University, Orlando P. Simonetti, PhD, explains “Not only can those patients not fit in a conventional MRI, but other imaging modalities like echocardiography, CT, or nuclear imaging are not as effective in these severely obese patients.”

Researchers and engineers at The Ohio State University are developing cardiac imaging techniques using the machine created by the medical company Siemens. It uses a lower magnetic field, a much better option for some cardiac patients.

“A lot of patients, now, that come in for cardiac MRI have implanted devices, pacemakers, defibrillators,” Professor Simonetti mentions.

The metal in implanted devices, like pacemakers and defibrillators, may distort the higher magnetic field of other MRI scanners, so technicians are sometimes not able to get clear images. The researchers say they’ve used new technology to boost the signal strength of the lower magnetic field, providing better pictures of the heart.

For comparison, today’s clinical MRIs usually have magnetic field strengths of 1.5 or 3.0 Tesla, which is the unit of measurement for magnetic fields. The new MRI has a strength of .55 Tesla.

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