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Will fewer MR coils be required in the future?

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 14, 2015
From the September 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


One new area of interest is noninvasive prostate imaging with 1.5T MR systems. Some facilities are using the flexible coils, instead of invasive, intracavity coils, and have experienced an increase in patient referrals. “The difficulty with an intracavity coil is that it is not a comfortable situation for the patient and they tend to gravitate away from an exam like that,” says Beck. “If you can come in with a noninvasive-type coil that is simple and you can get a good diagnostic study, then more of these exams may be ordered in the future.”

Some flexible coils on the market are torso-based coils and don’t have the resolution and signal-to noise ratio that is required for prostate imaging. But coils with a higher concentration of elements on the prostate area are able to perform good quality prostate imaging. DuoFLEX is able to achieve good image quality during those exams because it sits right upon the prostate without any space between the elements, which provides better signal-to-noise.

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Goodbye endorectal coils?
Endorectal coils are used along with 1.5T MRs for prostate exams to provide greater spatial resolution, better quality images and a reduction in artifacts, but 3T systems can do all that without the use of a coil. “You don’t need the coil for 3T because the signal with the body array is already adequate or good enough, so you don’t need to enhance the signal,” says Ioannis Panagiotelis, chief marketing officer at GE.

The endorectal coils are uncomfortable for the patient and they also add time and cost to the exam. A great deal of research favors the use of the coils, but advances in multi-parametric MR with 3T systems are producing excellent quality exams with a high rate of spotting cancer, without the use of coils. 3T diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) is also showing promise for this indication. A Swiss study published in March studied 111 men with prostate and/or bladder cancers who underwent 3T DWI and found that without an endorectal or contrast agent, 3T DWI has a “high probability” of detecting prostate cancer.

Larger coils for bariatric imaging
More than two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are considered to be overweight or obese, according to the National Institutes of Health. With obesity on the rise, radiology departments are faced with the challenge of improving clinical accuracy for bariatric imaging without compromising patient care.

“What do you do when the 500-pound patient shows up?” says Guy Poloni, director of the MR business unit at Toshiba. Often, a coil is too small to fit a bariatric patient, but Toshiba has developed an extra-large knee array coil for the Vantage Titan MR system. The company claims that it was the first diagnostic imaging vendor to offer an extra-large knee coil with a 22-centimeter interior diameter for MR imaging.

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