Siemens Healthineers kicked-off RSNA announcements season with its Shape 23 event, highlighted by a pair of forthcoming MRIs that should serve as the cornerstones of its high-end lineup for years to come.
Magnetom Cima.X – Siemens reinforced its already-solid 3T MR lineup with its new Magnetom Cima.X, calling it the company’s “strongest 3T MRI system ever.”
The Magnetom Cima.X owes that “strongest 3T” title to its new Gemini Gradients, which achieve 200 mT/m amplitude and 200 T/m/s slew rate performance. That’s a 2.5x increase from Siemens’ previous 3T MRIs and it’s higher than any other clinically released whole-body MRI.
The Magnetom Cima.X also features Siemens Healthineers’ …
- Benchmark 3T magnet
- Deep Resolve AI image reconstruction for up to 50% faster scans
- Open Recon for integrating custom reconstruction and post-processing solutions
- BioMatrix Technology to automatically adjust exams based on patient biovariability
- myExam Companion for streamlining technologist workflows
Magnetom Terra.X – Siemens’ new Magnetom Terra.X 7T MR is the long-awaited successor to the Magnetom Terra (the first FDA-cleared 7T MR), bringing improved clinical and research performance. The Magnetom Terra.X leverages Siemens’ new Ultra IQ Technology to achieve even greater image quality and visualization of small structures, Deep Resolve for image reconstruction-based speed and image enhancements, and Open Recon to support custom reconstructions.
Although both MRIs are still under development, their starring role in Siemens Healthineers’ big RSNA event underscores their significance to Siemens’ high-end MRI lineup, and gives a glimpse of features to expect in future 1.5T and 3T MR launches. That’s especially notable given that Siemens’ last two RSNA announcements focused on its new low-field 0.55T MRIs, and it hasn’t launched any high-field systems in over three years.
Memorial MRI and Diagnostic’s COO Todd Greene starred in a recent Aunt Minnie webinar, detailing the role MRI accessibility plays in the Texas imaging group’s strategy, and sharing some very relevant takeaways for imaging providers and vendors.
Founded in 2001, Memorial MRI and Diagnostic (MMD) operates 16 imaging centers across Texas, including eight in greater Houston and eight Dallas-area locations added through its 2021 acquisition of Prime Diagnostic Imaging.
- MMD’s strategy focuses on integrating its imaging centers within their local communities, making patient access and referring physician relationships particularly important.
In addition to proximity to patients, MMD’s MRI accessibility strategy historically focused on maintaining a fleet of open bore 1.5T MRI scanners to accommodate larger and claustrophobic patients.
- This is especially important given that many of MMD’s patients are “Texas sized” or don’t realize they’re claustrophobic until the scan begins.
That strategy started to change when MMD installed United Imaging’s 3T uMR OMEGA ultra-wide-bore (75 cm), allowing it to scan larger and claustrophobia-prone patients (plus all other patients) without open MRIs’ scan speed and image quality tradeoffs.
- The uMR OMEGA was MMD’s first 3T MRI at any of MMD’s imaging centers, although Greene expects its patient and referrer-friendly advantages to drive a continued shift towards wide-bore 3T MRI systems.
Greene also detailed Memorial MRI’s alliance with United Imaging (the webinar’s sponsor), specifically highlighting the scalability of UIH’s “Software for Life” (scanners automatically updated with future software) and “All-In” (scanners include all possible features/packages) policies.
As the webinar wrapped up, Greene warned imaging centers not to blindly rely on what has worked in the past, predicting that “ease of access is what is going to shape the future of healthcare.”
We get plenty of insights from the medical center side of radiology, but it’s still rare to hear from imaging center chains. That makes MDD’s insights particularly useful for the many regional imaging providers who’d like to improve MRI accessibility (without open MRI’s tradeoffs) and for MRI OEMs looking to drive 3T MRI adoption in an imaging provider segment that historically favored 1.5T systems.
GE Healthcare had another busy RSNA, highlighted by several major modality launches and an overarching focus on helping imaging teams be more productive.
Return to MR Hardware – After focusing on AIR Recon DL during the last two RSNAs, GE Healthcare’s MR team made sure to roll-out new hardware at this year’s show.
- GE’s MR section was headlined by its new SIGNA Hero 3T MR, which brings a wide range of improvements (image quality, workflows, productivity, comfort, reconstruction, helium & energy), and a major focus on operator efficiency.
- GE also unveiled the SIGNA Artist Evo, which allows health systems / imaging centers to upgrade their existing 1.5T 60cm-bore MRs with 70cm bore systems (w/ AIR Recon DL & AIR Coils), without the construction and downtime typically required when upgrading to a net new MR system.
GE’s Scalable CT Platform – GE unveiled the unique Revolution Apex platform, which offers the modularity and scalability to cover a wide range of current and future needs, and represents GE’s biggest CT launch since 2014.
- The FDA-cleared Revolution Apex CT is available with multiple detector coverage configurations (40mm, 80mm, 160mm, upgradable w/o replacing gantry) and is offered with GE’s new Smart Subscription service (allows software upgrades/downgrades, plus auto updates).
- True to GE’s productivity focus, the Revolution Apex also includes a range of features to improve technologist efficiency and/or expand clinical applications (e.g. “Effortless Workflow,” patient positioning camera, TrueFidelity DLIR, motion correction for cardiac).
Much More – GE Healthcare has been busy throughout 2021, so although the other products in its RSNA booth were still quite new, they’ve already been detailed in previous Imaging Wire issues. Some of these other highlights include its in-development Photon Counting CT, it’s now FDA-approved Endotracheal Tube X-ray AI tool, its StarGuide SPECT/CT scanner, and its recent alliance with Optellum.
After two straight solution-centric RSNAs, Philips’ RSNA 2021 booth will be headlined by a pair of new MR systems (plus some MR solutions) and a major focus on operational efficiency.
MR 5300 – The FDA-cleared MR 5300 (1.5T) is Philips’ second helium-free BlueSeal MR scanner, arriving three years after the Ingenia Ambition X, and launching with new AI-powered features intended to automate clinical and operational tasks. Philips also emphasized the image quality advantages of the MR 5300’s 55cm field-of-view and dStream Breeze coils.
MR 7700 – Philips’ forthcoming MR 7700 system (3T) is positioned for both clinical and research use, although its features and messaging largely emphasize its value to researchers. The MR 7700 boasts new multinuclear clinical capabilities, including diffusion imaging and advanced neuroscience sequences, while its XP gradients (65 mT/m) support neuroscience.
MR Workspace – Philips’ new MR Workspace is intended to support technologist productivity, providing a dashboard that automates the planning and execution of many routine scans and supports decision making by suggesting the most suitable Exam Card for each patient. MR Workspace will be included with all new and installed Philips MR scanners.
Philips SmartSpeed – The SmartSpeed image reconstruction platform is designed to speed up image acquisition and enhance image quality, leveraging Philips’ Compressed SENSE acquisition technique and AI to reconstruct full images from under-sampled data, “while maintaining virtually equivalent image quality.”
The Takeaway – Philips’ MR lineup has been relatively quiet during the last few years, while its main MR competitors made some solid progress (particularly w/ reconstruction, operability, comfort, and low-helium tech). It seems like that won’t be the case at RSNA 2021.
Siemens Healthineers’ Shape 22 pre-RSNA event featured a pair of ambitious hardware announcements that stand to expand what can be done with CT exams and where MRIs can be performed.
NAEOTOM Alpha PCCT – Siemens Healthineers confirmed its pole position in the Photon-Counting CT race, officially launching its NAEOTOM Alpha scanner. Although the NAEOTOM Alpha already received a rare marketing head-start from the FDA, this week’s launch begins its official 2022 rollout, and provides new details about this milestone product:
- Far higher image quality than CT
- Provides much more imaging data and new levels of CT-based insights
- Expands CT to new cardiac, oncology, and pulmonology use cases
- Allows 50% lower radiation dosage, could shift exams to non-contrast
- Supports Siemens’ core solutions, including operability and AI-based diagnosis
- Cleared in US and Europe, 20 systems already installed, 8k patients scanned
- PCCT expected to become the main CT technology within 10 years
- Siemens is holding another NAEOTOM Alpha event today (Nov. 18)
- Siemens might be first, but we’re seeing more PCCT activity from GE Healthcare, and Canon and Philips aren’t far behind
MAGNETOM Free.Star MRI – One year after introducing the MRI-expanding MAGNETOM Free.Max, Siemens continued its MRI accessibility push, revealing the “disruptively simple” MAGNETOM Free.Star. The new Free.Star MRI will inherit much of the MAGNETOM Free.Max’s accessibility-friendly qualities (0.55T, small/light, low helium & installation requirements), and will have the ambitious goal of supporting the half of the world’s population that doesn’t have MRI access. The MAGNETOM Free.Star is still early-stage (it hasn’t begun the FDA process), but it’s massive healthcare ambitions make it worth keeping an eye on.
The Takeaway – The NAEOTOM Alpha is expected to be the start of a major shift towards Photon-Counting CT, while the new MAGNETOM Free.Max and Free.Star could expand where MRIs are used. That makes these extremely significant products.