Long Lines for an MRI Examination

"A 70-year-old grandmother came to the hospital and found that her problem was tumor thrombus occupying the right atrium. The situation is not optimistic, and she needs an MRI scan. But she had to wait for half a year. Will any colleague in the radiology department do her a favor and help her get a scan faster?"

After a busy day of work in the radiology department, technician Zhang saw the request for help in WeChat Moments, posted by a doctor from the cardiology department in the same hospital. Although Zhang could understand the doctor's urgent feeling, he could do nothing because except for a special emergency, changing the MRI appointment schedule is unfair to patients who had made an appointment sooner.

Long lines for MRI scans are nothing uncommon. In many hospitals with high patient flow, even if more than 100 patients can have MRI scans in a day and doctors work in three shifts, it's far from enough to meet the growing demand for examinations.


The Speed Dilemma of MRI

The key reason for the difficulty in making enough appointments for MRI examinations and the long wait time lies in the slow scanning speed.

Due to the large number of examination sequences, complex technology and high imaging requirements, a scan of one single part of the body often takes at least ten minutes, while a complete range of examinations or inspection of a body part requiring special attention will take a longer period.

Speed has become a key focus of the further development of MRI. Since the emergence of the first magnetic resonance image more than 40 years ago, the scanning and imaging speed has been shortened from 4 hours to about 20 minutes for a single part. In order to meet the ever-increasing clinical demands, the entire medical imaging industry has been seeking new breakthroughs in speed.


A New Record

In September 2020, a new "world record " emerged. With the help of United Imaging Healthcare’s AI-assisted Compressed Sensing (ACS) technology, the first second-level MR acceleration technology in the industry, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science & Technology successfully scanned a total of 268 body parts within 15 hours in extreme- pressure clinical testing that covered complete sequences of more than ten body parts. The time for a single scan was less than 100 seconds, and the number of scans in a day was 4 to 5 times that of an ordinary radiology department.

The key to whole-body imaging within 100 seconds lies in the essential accelerating reconstruction technologies from various eras optimized by ACS, and the innovative integration of compressed sensing technology and artificial intelligence. Based on this, ACS has developed an intelligent and optimized data collection mode to reconstruct images with the most basic information. Compared with the previous generation of technology, its maximum speed will be 40 times, which greatly improves the efficiency of clinical examination. In addition to imaging within 100 seconds, it provides high-fidelity images. In addition, the shorter scanning time reduces respiration and motion artifacts, and produces clearer images while ensuring the high quality of those images. According to a blind assessment of an expert group made of associate professors other distinguished faculty from Tongji University, all indicators are that the images fully met the needs of clinical diagnosis.

The leap in scanning speed is expected to completely change the problem of difficulty making appointments and long lines for MRI examinations, greatly optimize the patients’ medical experience, and improve the efficiency of examinations and patient flow. Imaging within 100 seconds has led to endless opportunities. For example, in patients with acute cerebral hemorrhage or traumatic brain injury, MRI’s advantage of higher spatial resolution of pituitary gland, blood flow, and internal soft tissue can be used to obtain more comprehensive imaging information and capture elusive subtle lesions in cerebral blood vessels within a critical time period. At the same time, it can solve the problem that some patients with claustrophobia can't tolerate MRI scans. Currently, United Imaging Healthcare's R&D team is working with partner hospitals worldwide to explore the application potential of ACS to provide more accurate and reliable diagnoses and treatment for patients.

268 people in Wuhan Tongji Hospital underwent Integrated PET/MR 's scan in one day