New MRI uses lower magnetic field, expanding access to life-saving imaging

Dec. 17, 2021

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has installed a new FDA-approved MRI machine that has a lower magnetic field and a larger patient opening, removing barriers for patients who can’t get into a traditional MRI machine.

New MRI technology, developed by Siemens in collaboration with researchers at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and College of Engineering, will expand imaging access for patients with implanted medical devices, severe obesity, or claustrophobia.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said it is the first organization in the United States to install the full body MRI for patient care.

The 0.55T MAGENTOM Free.Max has an opening of 80 cm compared to the typical 60-70 cm, and a lower magnetic field strength that offers the potential for it to be used for lung imaging without X-ray radiation.

MRI is used predominantly to image the brain, spine, and joints but can also be used to image the heart and blood vessels. Today’s clinical MRIs usually have magnetic field strengths of 1.5 or 3.0 Tesla, whereas the Free.Max is much lower at 0.55 Tesla.

The medical center said that Simonetti teamed up with Rizwan Ahmad, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Ohio State, to develop techniques that could suppress noise, or interference in the images, and produce clearer images at lower field strength. They shared their ideas and techniques with Siemens, leading to development of the 0.55T Free.Max scanner.

Ohio State researchers have partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to study use of the 0.55T with heart catherization. Children with congenital heart disease must undergo repeated heart catheterizations throughout their lives, and they are exposed to radiation every time they have an X-ray to guide the tube through a blood vessel to the heart.

Ohio State researchers are optimistic that the new MRI technology can also be used to image the lungs, which typically is done with nuclear imaging or X-ray CT scans.

OSU Wexner Medical Center release