Whole-body scanner widens access to magnetic resonance imaging
MR imaging is used to diagnose soft tissue and plays a central role in the early diagnosis and treatment of the world’s most common diseases such as cancer, neurological diseases, and orthopedic problems. In developing countries, but also in rural regions of many industrialised nations, MRI scanners are not widely available. Many patients are therefore excluded from this powerful diagnostic imaging technology and must accept long waiting times or travel long distances.
Siemens Healthineers has announced Magnetom Free.Star1, a cost-effective whole-body MRI scanner, designed to enable significantly better access to magnetic resonance imaging worldwide. Together with Magnetom Free.Max, Magnetom Free.Star is part of a new generation of scanners which can achieve excellent image quality with digital technologies. The two MRIs are based on the “High-V MRI” platform and are the smallest and most lightweight whole-body scanners that Siemens Healthineers has ever built.
“Right now, more than half of the world’s population has no access to MRI examinations. The limiting factors include installation and operating costs as well as the lack of qualified personnel, just to name a few. I truly believe that every person in every country worldwide should have access to MR imaging, if clinically necessary. With Magnetom Free.Star, we are launching a scanner that is cost-effective and, thanks to artificial intelligence, so easy to use that even less experienced personnel can utilise its full potential. Together with our customers, we will be helping more and more people to live longer and healthier lives,” says Arthur Kaindl, head of magnetic resonance imaging at Siemens Healthineers.
“We are looking forward to using the new Magnetom Free.Star to bring MR imaging to previously underserved regions, such as rural areas in Africa,” says Udi Baruch, managing director Africa, at ElsMed. “With its cutting-edge technologies such as the easy-to-use user interface, the system can solve challenges that have – until now – excluded many people in Africa from accessing this important medical imaging modality. Additionally, the helium independent magnet technology is an enormous advantage in areas where the system’s transport and installation are otherwise challenging.” ElsMed is a business partner of Siemens Healthineers with many successful joint projects on several continents. The company has been operating in Africa for many years and offers comprehensive healthcare solutions up to the construction and operation of entire hospitals.
Simple and cost-effective installation and operation
Magnetom Free.Star, like Magnetom Free.Max, belongs to the new generation of scanners from Siemens Healthineers with a field strength of 0.55 Tesla. Magnetom Free.Star has a patient bore of 60 centimeters and uses the DryCool magnet technology, which requires less than one liter of liquid helium to cool the MRI. Previously, several hundred liters of this scarce raw material were required for cooling. Additionally, the installation of a safety related quench pipe was necessary, which allowed to discharge helium into the open air in case of an emergency. The large helium inventory as well as the construction measures are no longer necessary for the High-V MRI scanners. Because the compact systems can be rolled through normal hospital doors in many places, complex openings of the buildings can also be avoided during installation. The significantly reduced energy consumption adds a positive effect on operating costs as well. The costs over the entire life cycle of the system are up to 30 percent lower than with conventional scanners.
Magnetom Free.Star and the High-V MRI platform
Magnetom Free.Star combines all the technological innovations of the new High-V MRI platform: The field strength of 0.55 Tesla offers high diagnostic value thanks to AI-based reconstruction algorithms such as Deep Resolve Sharp. It raises the image quality to a level that could previously only be achieved with significantly higher field strengths. In addition, this new field strength offers advantages for clinical fields such as implant and lung imaging. Digital innovations such as myExam Companion, which significantly simplifies the operation and adjustment of the scanner, are designed to make it more accessible to inexperienced operators.
Remote diagnostic services as a supplement
Siemens Healthineers wants to support the operation of Magnetom Free.Star with the remote scanning service WeScan4 and a remote reading and reporting service4. These optional remote services can support healthcare providers in remote operation of the MRI scanner and tele-diagnosis of clinical images. Siemens Healthineers wants to significantly lower barriers to entry for access to MR imaging with these solutions.