While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems typically produce high-quality images, they highly depend on the magnetic field’s strength. Higher quality images come from MRI systems with increasingly powerful magnetic fields, making ultra-high-field MRI systems that produce magnetic fields at 7T the ideal system for the best possible photos. With access to incredibly detailed and precise pictures, scientists and other medical professionals can make massive advances in diagnosing and treating many illnesses and conditions.
However, these MRI systems are considerably rare in hospital settings, with many of them possessing 3T machines. Given the newness of 7T MRIs, which was recently approved for clinical imaging only recently, it’s an innovation that medical facilities will want to explore. Here’s what you need to know about it:
Understanding Magnetic Field Strength
MRIs are the only diagnostic imaging system that utilizes magnets rather than X-rays to take photos of a patient’s internals. It uses powerful magnets to create a magnetic field, aligning the patient’s water molecules’ protons. This innovative system has allowed doctors, scientists, and patients to understand more about how their body works and what happens underneath the surface.
MRIs also generate a radiofrequency current, which the protons absorb to invert their spins. When the magnetic field is off, the protons’ spin goes back to normal, which the MRI system’s receivers measure and use to produce an image. The stronger the magnetic field, the farther the patient can be from the magnet, allowing a much faster process.
The Four Main Types of Magnetic Field Strengths
The magnetic field strength is responsible for resolving and clarifying the images that an MRI captures; thus, different systems produce magnetic fields at different strengths. They’re used for various diagnostic purposes, as scanning other parts of the body require specific power ratings.
The first type of magnetic field strength is low-field. MRIs with this strength produce magnetic fields below 0.3T, making them suitable to capture extremities’ images like the arms, hands, legs, or feet. Since the magnetic field strength is low, the scans take longer to perform.
The next type is medium-field, in which MRIs of this strength produce magnetic fields between 0.3T and 1T. Open MRI systems are usually medium-field, as they take photos of the patient’s head and torso, which can’t be done with a low-field MRI.
The third type is high-field, where MRIs of this strength produce magnetic fields between 1T or 3T. High-field MRI systems are closed, which means that their magnets surround the patient. These systems offer much higher resolution photos, allowing doctors to diagnose specific conditions more quickly than medium-field MRI systems.
The last type is ultra-high-field. These types of MRIs produce magnetic fields at 7T or stronger. They are closed MRI systems that are the most powerful diagnostic imaging machinery available today and are much more effective than the other three in monitoring or diagnosing conditions.
How a 7T Ultra-High Field Scanner is So Powerful
With 7T’s capabilities, medical professionals can now explore clinical applications that weren’t possible with lower strength MRI systems. For instance, a 7T magnetic field makes X-nuclei imaging and spectroscopy doable, as it provides higher-quality and more precise scans. As a result, the system can more accurately scan and produce images of the brain and joints.
Researchers have heavily relied on 7T MRIs for their studies for these reasons over the years, with the system now approved for clinical use. Fortunately, integrating such advanced technology into your facility is feasible, as the magnets are lighter than in previous MRI systems. You also won’t have to deal with the additional costs of refilling the system’s liquid helium, as 7T MRI systems use zero helium boil-off technology.
Medical and diagnostic technology is evolving rapidly, with manufacturers working hard to develop MRI systems that can produce 11.7T magnetic fields. However, this probably won’t hit the market any time soon, making 7T MRI systems an ideal inclusion in your roster of technology.
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