WAUKESHA, Wis., May 9 -- GE Medical Systems announced it has expanded its global network of research partners that are helping to develop 7 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems. The University of California, San Francisco and join the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD; Niigata University, Japan; Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; and Harvard University, Boston, for ultrahigh field imaging research. GE's first 7T MRI system was delivered to the NIH last December.
GE Medical Systems also announced that a 9.4 Tesla superconducting magnet, designed and built for the University of Illinois at Chicago, that is being tested in GE's development facility in Abingdon, UK, has reached 9.405 Tesla, the highest magnetic field achieved for a whole-body magnet.
Most clinical MRI systems use magnetic fields of 1.5 Tesla (30,000 times the Earth's magnetic field) or below. In 1999, GE introduced the first FDA-cleared 3 Tesla MRI system. Higher field strengths help increase signal levels, enhancing advanced imaging techniques like MR spectroscopy (chemical analysis of tissue) and allow higher resolution images to be acquired in the same time as at lower field strengths. These higher resolution images will provide researchers with a clearer picture of tissue structure and function, the company said.
GE has begun precooling the 7T magnet at NIH in preparation for energizing it and bringing the magnet to field. Initial images from the system will be acquired later this spring.
GE's 7 Tesla MRI systems incorporate GE EXCITE technology and the industry's only 7 Tesla whole-body magnet. The magnet contains over 240 miles of superconducting wire and weighs over 66,000 pounds, and is roughly twice the length of a 1.5 Tesla clinical magnet.
"The research community believes that using higher field strengths, like 7T and 9.4T, will allow them to identify new markers for pathology and fuel the development of new imaging techniques at lower field strengths, which can have a more direct clinical impact," said Michael Harsh, engineering manager, GE Medical Systems Global MR Business. "Identification of these markers will help accelerate understanding of central nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS, as well as other chronic conditions."
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