Toshiba refines Access low-field MR

May 8, 1991

Toshiba America Medical Systems unveiled hardware and softwareupgrades to its 0.064-tesla Access MRI system last month thatpromise to reduce imaging setup times while boosting image quality. The Access Advance incorporates new proprietary

Toshiba America Medical Systems unveiled hardware and softwareupgrades to its 0.064-tesla Access MRI system last month thatpromise to reduce imaging setup times while boosting image quality.

The Access Advance incorporates new proprietary low-field,permanent magnet technology that has increased its absolute fieldhomogeneity to F 0.032 gauss. This is the best rate for permanentmagnets used in medical imaging, according to William J. Carrano,Toshiba marketing manager.

The new design permits shorter TE values without loss of signal-to-noise."We are typically seeing reductions in acquisition timesbetween 10% and 15% for head and spine scans," Carrano said.

When combined with throughput gains from new software, theAccess Advance can cut more than 10 minutes from the typical examwhile increasing the system's capacity by one patient a day, hesaid.

Toshiba showed the upgraded unit at the Society for MagneticResonance Imaging conference in Chicago in April. Shipments willbegin in June, he said.

Improvements in patient positioning result in enhanced efficiency.New fluoro-MRI software flashes one nondiagnostic image per secondon a 12-inch monitor in the scanning room. These fluro imagesserve as a visual aid for the technologist as the patient is positioned,Carrano said.

"In the past, it took 10 minutes to do a complicated position.Now you can do it in 60 seconds," he said.

Curved surface reformatting software allows the radiologistto create imaging planes following natural anatomical contours.The approach captures diagnostic quality images of all vertebralbodies, disks and the spinal cord in a single view, Carrano said.

Toshiba also introduced Interactive Image Processing (IIP)as an option to the new Access Advance MRI or an upgrade to existingultra-low-field systems.

The manufacturer claims substantial image quality gains throughIIP, an adaptive signal processing technique borrowed from spacesatellite imaging technology.

"This is not just a simple filter process," Carranosaid. "IIP very quickly analyzes high- and low-frequencydata, image texture, image statistics and resolution recovery.It sharpens anatomical borders, tissue texture and contrast."

The Access Advance hardware and software upgrades cost about$30,000, he said. IIP costs an added $30,000. Toshiba held theline on the base price for the successor to the $800,000 AccessMRI, according to Carrano.

"We can still get a fully operational system for wellunder $1 million," he said. A price tag below $1 millionis a strong selling point in the present recessionary economy.It is also attractive for sites in states with certificate ofneed requirements that cap expenditures per piece of capital medicalequipment.