Boston, MA (September 10, 2018) – A new 7 Tesla (7T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, that was added to the imaging technologies at BWH in May of 2017, has received federal and state approvals for clinical use and is available for patient care beginning on Sept.10. Availability of this new technology provides clinicians and patients with an advanced diagnostic imaging tool that is more than double the strength of a conventional high-field scanner.
Part of a new generation of ultra-high field instruments, the 7T MRI at BWH is the second in the country to be approved for clinical use and can now be fully integrated into the MRI program at BWH, focusing on world class research and advanced patient care.
Weighing almost 25 tons, the 7T MRI was delivered on May 20, 2017 when it was lowered by crane into the Hale Building at BWH. The 7T’s superior field strength and advanced electronics provides a stronger signal that can be used to generate higher resolution images that offer advanced clinical insights into neurologic diseases like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, and musculoskeletal conditions that involve the cartilage, muscle and fascia of the knee joint. Initially used for research, the 7T has allowed the BWH research team to identify lesions in 38 percent of epilepsy patients that were not readily discernible on high-quality 3T imaging.
“Clinicians who see patients with neurological conditions for the brain – such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, epilepsy, cerebrovascular diseases and traumatic brain injury – will be able to capture details about these diseases and address clinical questions that current, lower-field magnets have not fully answered,” said Srinivasan Mukundan, Jr., PhD, MD, medical director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging at BWH.
Added James D. Kang, MD, chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at BWH, “The 7T will allow orthopaedic surgeons to get a noninvasive, detailed picture of various structures within the knee that are often the source of pain and disability.”
Patients who are seen in the main campus ambulatory neuroscience and musculoskeletal clinics will be referred by their physicians for a scan using the 7T when it is clear that the advanced images will provide a clinically meaningful benefit. The amount that patients and their insurers are billed for diagnostic MRI examinations is the same regardless of the field strength of the MRI instrument.
“Our clinical deployment of the new 7T MRI scanner will be a resource for clinicians and researchers across our system, and we look forward to collaborations with our colleagues at MGH,” said Giles Boland, MD, chair of the Department of Radiology at BWH. “Technical expertise developed over the past decade by MGH researchers working with the first 7T MRI system located at their Charlestown Naval Yard facility will help facilitate clinical translation at BWH. Likewise, clinical advances made at the Brigham will inform research efforts.”