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GE extends MR capabilities for stroke and breast cancer

GE extends MR capabilities for stroke and breast cancer

ISMRM showcases new techniques

Increased data flow is proving critical to the continued expansion of clinical applications in MR. GE Medical Systems demonstrated this point at the annual meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine in mid-July with advanced techniques designed for vascular, breast, and stroke imaging.

The utilization of each is tied to the company's Excite data pipeline, which currently comes in four- and eight-channel configurations. More than 300 MR scanners have been upgraded to Excite since the technology was introduced at last year's ISMRM conference.

"The eight-channel systems have been aimed at the more difficult applications and the higher throughput sites," said Lindsey Carver, global manager of advanced development at GE Medical Systems.

These sites have the horsepower to implement the new technologies showcased by GE, such as Propeller, a pulse sequence based on fast spin-echo imaging that is relatively insensitive to motion. It is designed for use in evaluating stroke patients, as well as patients who have difficulty remaining motionless during the exam, such as children. Utilization of the sequence takes extraordinary processing power and, consequently, requires Excite's high data throughput capability.

Excite is also essential to the use of Vibrant (volume imaging for breast assessment), a bilateral breast imaging technique that integrates fat-suppression technology with Asset, GE's parallel imaging technology. Ditto for TRICKS (time resolved imaging of contrast kinetics), an MR angiography technique optimized for peripheral runoff studies. TRICKS is less dependent on operator skill than other MRA techniques, according to physicians familiar with it, yet it produces high-resolution images.

"TRICKS is time resolved every two seconds," said Dr. Thomas Grist, chief of MRI at the University of Wisconsin. "It provides excellent spatial resolution and can detect the smallest collaterals."

The system automatically produces maximum intensity projections through each 3D volume. Each one comes out in a series.

"Surgeons really like that," Grist said.

The downside is that TRICKS is a computing-intensive algorithm, and this is where Excite comes in with its ability to handle increased data volume and processing. Excite's four- or eight-channel pipelines can handle the most intensive applications currently available. In preparation for future demands, GE is working on a 32-channel prototype at Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospital in Boston.

"We are exploding the scalable nature of this platform," Carver said.


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