GE Healthcare has introduced a new data acquisition technology designed to improve patient comfort by largely eliminating the horrible noise generated during an MRI scan. Conventional MRI scanners can generate noise levels in excess of 110 dBA (creating a din that sounds like a cross between a vehicle’s reverse warning horn and a Star Trek phaser) but GE says its new Silent Scan MRI technology can reduce this to just above background noise levels in the exam room.
The noise that MRI scanners produce is related to changes in the magnetic field that allow the slice by slice body scan to be carried out. In recent years, industry efforts to speed up the scanning process have also resulted in louder and louder scans. The designers have attempted to dampen these noises with mufflers and baffles, achieving only limited success.
Silent Scan is achieved through two new developments. First, acoustic noise is essentially eliminated by using a new 3D scanning and reconstruction technique called Silenz. When the Silenz protocol is used in combination with GE’s new high-fidelity MRI gradient and RF system electronics, the MRI scanning noise is largely eliminated at its source.
At the 2012 meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, an MRI system compatible with the Silent Scan technology was linked into a soundproof room. When the MRI system used conventional scanning methods, a staccato, stuttering racket with noise peaks up to 110 dBA was heard. However, when Silent Scan was switched on, the noise level dropped to 76 dBA, just above the background noise of the MRI electronics. This is accomplished without substantial trade-offs in scanning time or image quality, according to Richard Hausmann, president and CEO, GE Healthcare MR. The comparison is shown in this video.
Silent Scan technology has not yet obtained 510k Premarketing Notification clearance from the FDA, so it’s not yet available for sale. GE is presumably hoping for a decision that Silent Scan is “substantially equivalent” to existing MRI scanners, a result that would greatly simplify the new technology’s entry into the diagnostic market.
“Silent Scan is a huge breakthrough for the MR industry and for patients around the world,” says Richard Hausmann, president and CEO, GE Healthcare MR. “Excessive acoustic noise is a major cause of patient discomfort during MR scans and GE is addressing that with Silent Scan, a new MR advanced application and a major innovation in the healthcare industry. GE is very serious about Humanizing MR and making its MR systems patient-friendly, safe, and without compromise.”
Historically, acoustic noise mitigation techniques have focused on insulating components and muffling sound as opposed to treating the noise at the source. With Silent Scan, acoustic noise is essentially eliminated by employing a new advanced 3D acquisition and reconstruction technique called Silenz, in combination with GE Healthcare’s proprietary design of the high-fidelity MR gradient and RF system electronics. Silent Scan is designed to eliminate the noise at its source; with Silent Scan, patients will experience a more relaxing scanning environment.
Silent Scan is one way in which GE MR is Humanizing MR and putting patients first. GE’s MR systems deliver superb image quality and an optimized patient experience, balancing caring design with insightful technology. Another example of this on display at RSNA is the Optima MR430s 1.5T extremity scanner, which allows patients to undergo an MR exam while sitting in a chair, with Image Quality equivalent to a traditional whole body MR system.
*Silent Scan is 510(k) pending at U.S. FDA and not available for sale.
Source: GE Healthcare