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Upgrades Extend the Life of MRI Simply and Cost Effectively

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 10 Aug 2011
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A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) upgrade takes minimal time, delivers rapid returns, and is at a lower cost compared to a new installation. This modernization path rapidly extends the life of existing equipment into the future to support evolving patient needs.

In order to maximize efficiency and reduce the UK NHS [National Health Service] Trust capital expenditure, Siemens Healthcare (Erlangen, Germany) is promoting its Tim (Total imaging matrix) upgrades to extend the life of existing MRI infrastructure.

Other benefits of a Tim upgrade include improved image quality to boost clinical effective, speeded up scan times to help with seeing more patients during the working day, and raised staff morale from working with up-to-date technology. Another motivation factor is that an upgrade involves less disruption to imaging departments than new installation works.

Debbie King, modality lead radiographer in MRI at Stoke Mandeville Hospital (Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK), part of the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust commented on her experience of the Tim upgrade process, “Our MRI scanner was approaching eight years old so we had to make a decision to replace or lengthen its life--we opted for a Tim upgrade to work with what was already in place. We have been really pleased with the benefits, gaining faster scan times, and better signal to noise ratio for improved image quality. As a result, we have been able to introduce a new cardiac imaging service at the hospital to avoid the need for patients to be referred elsewhere.”

Claire Brettle, superintendent radiographer for computed tomography (CT) and MRI at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Swindon, UK), noted, “The upgrade was a much more cost effective option than buying a new MRI scanner to increase throughput and deliver better image quality. The results have been great--we chose to enhance image quality over faster scans and it has made everything we do much better.”

A Tim upgrade of a Magnetom Symphony MRI system from Siemens includes new hardware such as a radiofrequency (RF) system with 18 or 32 independent channels for faster imaging and higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), new standard and optional coils, new table for easier patient handling, Audio Comfort improvements for quieter examinations, and a new computer system for faster reconstruction.

“When MRI systems are nearing their replacement age, technical upgrades offer a quick and alternative route to modernizing capital equipment compared to an entirely new system install. The cost savings are also a big plus for NHS Trusts that want to extend MRI lifespans to gain better image quality and speed,” stated Jane Kilkenny, MRI product manager at Siemens Healthcare.

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