In healthcare magnetic imaging with MRI has become a leading imaging modality, able to image virtually all pathologies that show up in a clinical setting. Current developments in MRI are leading to high-field scanner systems with dedicated local detection systems to maximize the signal coming from the patient. However, MR systems have also become very costly and require much technological expertise to improve. Furthermore, because the clinical and technical academic world are very often separated from each other clinical introduction of technologies goes slowly. In our research group we aim to improve communication over this gap by bringing the clinical environment and staff closer to the technical research. With that we are not only shortening the time of clinical implementation but also fitting the technical solution better to the clinical needs.
To help us with our research a cost-effective but still clinically interesting low-field MRI scanner was purchased by the University of Twente. A unique point of this low-field MRI scanner is its ability to rotate the subject which opens up worlds that are yet to be discovered with MR. The most obvious application of this feature is in child orthopedics, in order to remove the radiation dose that is associated with CT which is the current modality of choice. But other less obvious subjects might also benefit from the upright positioning, such as the quantification of pelvic organ prolapse in women after child birth. Next to that, the open design of the scanner theoretically allows for interventional procedures to be performed under MR guidance. This is a topic which is being researched together with the MST. Together with their vascular surgery group we evaluate the use of low-field MRI guidance during minimally invasive procedures. A final use of the scanner lies in the fact that artifacts generated by metallic implants can become smaller on this machine than on regular clinical scanners due to its low magnetic field. This opens up the possibility to more accurately and more safely measure metallic implants such as bone prostheses.