GE and Mayo Clinic have received a nearly $6 million NIH grant to research a standalone MRI machine dedicated to scanning of the brain. The research would focus on both the development of the device and how it would be implemented in a clinical setting. Because up to a third of all MRI scans today are performed on the brain, a dedicated stand-alone unit that is smaller and cheaper may help improve clinical outcomes and be more cost efficient.
The intention is that a dedicated high-field scanner could offer a more specialized imaging approach and a greater range of functionality for neurological imaging compared to the current one-size-fits-all concept of whole-body MRI imaging. The goal of the program is ultimately to understand and address the technical issues involved in dedicated MR imaging of the brain.
This NIH-funded collaboration between GE and Mayo Clinic illustrates an emerging trend of more specialized imaging systems. With a dedicated approach, MRI scanners can be more specifically tailored and designed for neurological imaging applications that potentially lead to improved image quality and a more comfortable experience for the patient. It will also potentially enable smaller, lighter designs that increase the accessibility of MRI to remote settings and regions where the technology is currently unavailable. The project is closely aligned with GE’s healthymagination initiative, which is built on a global commitment to reduce costs, improve quality and expand access to healthcare for millions of people.
Compared to equivalent field strength whole-body MRI scanner, GE’s prototype scanner will be designed to deliver the same (or better) quality images, but from a scanner that is only one-third the size and significantly lighter.
Beyond removing major siting barriers, GE researchers will be incorporating new image analysis tools and easier-to-use operating systems and interfaces that expand the system’s imaging capabilities and would enable more healthcare professionals to acquire diagnostic images. For example, new “one-touch” features are being developed that will simplify the programming of image settings from dozens of complex inputs to a single control.