GE aims to improve MR ease of use

August 30, 2006

Unlike CT, which produces a volumetric rendering of the brain with little more than the push of a button, MR requires considerable fiddling.

Unlike CT, which produces a volumetric rendering of the brain with little more than the push of a button, MR requires considerable fiddling.

"People have referred to MR as the science experiment that escaped from the lab," said Dave Ferguson, general manager of core products for GE Healthcare's MR business. "There are a lot of error paths available to the technologist."

Ferguson would like to get around that by leveraging the technologies that so far have made MR more difficult. New gradients and increased channel count have increased MR speed and expanded clinical applications, but they have also made the modality more complex and difficult to operate. But those technologies could also make MR easier to use, he said.

"This is as important for the proliferation of MR globally and in the U.S. as any single breakthrough clinical application," Ferguson said.

Higher channel counts coupled with parallel imaging, to date used to increase scan speed, might also enable ease of use. The immediate focus would be on image quality, which would translate into fewer repeat scans.

Another enabler of improved ease of use is the development of motion insensitive imaging techniques. An early example is GE's Propeller, whose radial acquisition of data sprays artifacts out of the volume rather than through it. Other MR vendors have followed suit with similar techniques designed to reduce the effect of motion on image quality. The ultimate goal now at GE is to develop techniques that make every image diagnostic.

"When we launched Propeller, it opened our eyes to how important motion insensitive imaging can be," Ferguson said. "So there will be more things like that. They will be part of our product portfolio in the coming one to two years."