GE showcases exotic imaging techniques as MR future

May 21, 2007

Volumetric and highly specialized imaging techniques will expand the clinical horizons of MR, according to GE Healthcare. Technologies that improve the speed of data acquisition and processing will make them practical.

Volumetric and highly specialized imaging techniques will expand the clinical horizons of MR, according to GE Healthcare. Technologies that improve the speed of data acquisition and processing will make them practical.

The company highlighted these clinical approaches and the technologies for making them real as part of its vision for the future, on display this week in the GE booth at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine meeting in Berlin.

In a customer meeting Sunday night, GE scientists explained the technologies in the company's pipeline that will make practical complex techniques, including volumetric imaging and robust fat-, water-, silicon-, and iron-only imaging, as well as volumetric scanning. All address an ongoing problem.

"The biggest barrier to increased adoption of MR is simplification, consistency, and repeatability," said David Ferguson, general manager of the premium MR business for GE. "The average user still struggles to get consistent and reproducible results."

The means for overcoming this barrier will be new parallel imaging and data processing technologies that Ferguson said will drive MR toward an ease of use now associated with CT. A big step in that direction will be the use of these technologies in making volumetric scanning a reality.

"One of the problems with MR today is that it is largely a slice-based modality," he said. "Ideally, we should acquire data as a volume that can be reoriented to see anatomies of interest and from which multiple contrasts could be extracted so we don't have to do multiple acquisitions."

GE is optimizing radiofrequency channels and its reconstruction engine, as well as bolstering parallel imaging, as part of a holistic approach to its data pipeline, according to Ferguson. Company scientists explained how this approach, now evolving in GE's labs and luminary sites in academia, will bring new capabilities to the broad MR community.

Push-button simplicity will come from volumetric techniques, he said. Specialized clinical information will be possible through exotic technologies made possible by rapid data acquisition and processing: silicon-, fat- and water-only imaging to assess breast implants and iron-only imaging to examine the liver.

When these capabilities will become widely available is not certain. In keeping with the general theme of the ISMRM meeting, where presentations exemplify the most far-flung ideas in clinical MR, GE is focusing more on ideas than products.

"It is what we see coming and what we plan to do to make that vision a reality," Ferguson said.