King’s College London accelerates research with low helium MRI system

King’s College London is working to make MRI technology more accessible in community settings, through virtually helium-free MRI research with the first Magnetom Free.Max in the UK. The reduced-helium MRI system from Siemens Healthineers allows the King’s team to evaluate this type of MRI for use outside a traditional hospital setting while using a lower field strength, expanding the scope of research into cardiac, respiratory and fetal brain development imaging that was previously not possible.

“The Magnetom Free.Max is a welcome addition to King’s College London as we seek to evaluate how this kind of MRI might perform outside a hospital setting and expand the scope of our imaging research with a lower field strength,” said director of clinical and research imaging operations Dr Sharon Giles at the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences. “Community diagnostic centres are the setting we are trying to simulate here with the Magnetom Free.Max. While the system is currently used in a hospital setting, its less demanding infrastructure requirements mean it could be implemented into community settings, increasing MRI accessibility for patients.”

Alongside funding by Research England, the system enables research previously not possible for the department. Unlike conventional MRI systems, the Magnetom Free.Max requires less than one litre of liquid helium for cooling, eliminating the need for a quench pipe. The virtually helium-free MRI scanner greatly reduces infrastructure requirements, enabling it to be installed in community-based settings.

King’s College London has an existing relationship with Siemens Healthineers and has partnered with the research and development team to provide additional insight into research projects utilising other MRI systems including 1.5T, 3.0T and 7.0T from Siemens Healthineers.

The addition of the 0.55T Magnetom Free.Max at the Advanced MRI Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital expands research capabilities and exploits currently existing facilities, such as a radio frequency coil laboratory. The research team at King’s College London plans to use the lower field of 0.55T for imaging research into areas that are more challenging for MRI at 1.5T and above, such as respiratory imaging, interventional radiology and scanning patients with implants.

The system features an 80cm bore, providing a more comfortable scanning experience for claustrophobic and bariatric patients, increasing the likelihood of participation in studies.

Head of the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences Professor Sebastien Ourselin said: “The Magnetom Free.Max MRI is a prime example of how our school effectively works with industry to engineer better health. Together with Siemens Healthineers, we are ultimately creating more healthcare opportunities for clinicians, equipping them with technology necessary to better deliver patient care, not only in standard hospital settings, but also within resource limited areas in the broader community.”

Picture: With King’s College London director of clinical and research imaging operations Dr Sharon Giles (second left) and advanced MRI radiographer Pip Bridgen (fourth left) are Siemens Healthineers GB&I MR application specialist Chris Kasap, diagnostic imaging business lead Matt Gibson and regional sales manager Mitch Harrold.

Published on page 2 of the September 2022 issue of RAD Magazine.

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