London Bridge Hospital Unveils new 3T MRI scanner


High-resolution MRI technology installed at 31 Old Broad Street satellite centre

31 Old Broad Street, London Bridge Hospital’s satellite centre, has installed the new Siemens 3 Tesla (3T) Magnetom Skyra MRI Scanner.

As the first centre within the wider London Bridge Hospital group to offer the 3T MRI, an initial trial, which began in mid July, has already seen 107 patients scanned with the technology.

Offering a higher resolution than the 1.5T magnet, the 3T MRI aids in delineating small structures that cannot be seen at lower resolutions. Commonly utilised in brain imaging, this improved image quality provides a choice between thinner slices or increase in-plane resolution, resulting in improvements in both spatial and temporal resolution.

Dr Ben Turner, consultant neurologist at London Bridge Hospital, said: “The 3 Tesla MRI is a major advance in medical imaging. The development of the 3T scanner has moved the quality of brain imaging to another level. In two important fields of Neurology - epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, 3T images identify lesions not visible on 1.5T MRI’s, therefore in patients with normal 1.5T MRI’s abnormalities may be overlooked. In the near future 3T MRI will be the standard.”

Additional benefits of the 3T include an increased Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR), which can be used to improve image quality or decrease scan time. Decreased scan times help to reduce patient movement artifacts, and in conjunction with new movement correction sequences, the 3T scanner can ensure high-quality imaging is still produced, even for patients who struggle to remain still.

Furthermore, increases in chemical shift at 3T allow for improved MR spectroscopy, while new spectroscopy techniques aid in the diagnosis of breast and prostate cancer.

The development of the 3T scanner has moved the quality of brain imaging to another level

Rick Popert, consultant urological surgeon at London Bridge Hospital, explained: “The new 3T MRI service for London Bridge Hospital will enhance the service for men and GPs concerned about prostate cancer risk. The improved image quality and faster image acquisition sequences should better determine who needs prostate biopsies and how best they should be done. The ability to ‘fuse’ the 3T MRI images with ‘live’ ultrasound provides the most-precise method to target specific areas within the prostate.”

Moreover, the 3T’s improved fat suppression techniques are especially beneficial for musculoskeletal studies, while its improved visualisation of cartilage enables imaging specialists to map the water content within cartilage, facilitating early detection of cartilage degeneration.

Discussing the benefits for musculoskeletal studies, Ian McDermott, a specialist knee surgeon at London Sports Orthopaedics, said: “Our new 3T scanner at 31 Old Broad Street gives the best-quality pictures with the finest resolution I have ever seen. The value of an MRI scan depends hugely on the resolution of the actual images, and particularly in knee joints it is vital to get fine and accurate pictures of structures such as the articular cartilage, which is only millimetres thick.

“This new scanner increases my confidence in the imaging that we are now able to perform, which aids enormously one's confidence in detecting pathology and achieving a correct diagnosis. This scanner will also now allow more modern forms of imaging, such as dGEMRIC scanning, which shows not just the structure, but also the actual quality of cartilage in the knee, which is a very exciting new tool.

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“We sometimes have to view patients' imaging that they bring from having had scans done elsewhere on lower-quality scanners, and the stark contrast seen when having to try and interpret fuzzy and speckly low-res images really does emphasise just how lucky we are at our centre to have instant direct access to such cutting-edge imaging technology.”