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Pictured: Left - Trust chairman Professor Sir John Burn with Peter Harrison from Siemens at official unveiling. Right - Radiographers with the new MAGNETOMA Sola Scanner

UK’s first patients scanned by new ‘intelligent’ MRI in Newcastle


An innovative new scanner hailed as the ‘new generation of the MRI’ was officially unveiled today by Chairman of the Newcastle Hospitals, Professor Sir John Burn.

The latest addition to Newcastle’s suite of sophisticated scanners is a Siemens Healthineers MAGNETOM Sola, based at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

Siemens Healthineers technology features artificial intelligence to streamline scanning processes; motion sensors which monitor patient breathing to identify the optimum time to scan; and enhanced ‘free breathing’ sequences, reducing the need for patients to hold their breath whilst they are scanned.  

Radiologists with years of specialist clinical expertise at the Newcastle Hospitals describe the new scanner as ‘a major step change in the way radiographers at the hospital can now scan patients’.

Dr Tim Hoare, clinical director and consultant radiologist for the Newcastle Hospitals explains:  “We’re extremely excited to welcome this new generation of scanner.

“Instead of expecting patients to adjust to the technology, the MAGNETOM Sola’s BioMatrix technology automatically adjusts to the patient. BioMatrix Sensors, Tuners, and Interfaces allow you to anticipate motion, adapt to the patient, and to simplify and accelerate patient preparation This is a benefit to the patient and our staff.”

Dr Hoare continues: “With this scanner, musculoskeletal patients can now be scanned in almost half the conventional time, from an average of 13 minutes and 15 seconds down to 7 minutes and 8 seconds. This is a phenomenal improvement for one of our busiest clinical areas and will make a huge difference, potentially reducing waiting times and increasing the number of people we are able to scan each day.” 

The Simultaneous Multi Slice (SMS) techniques throughout the body enhance the ability to speed up the examinations, while maintaining, and in some cases, improving image quality.

The MAGNETOM Sola  employs the use of respiratory sensors to monitor patient breathing movement, and introduces a greater numbers of ‘free breathing’ applications, via these sensors, which work towards optimising the experience for patients.  Simultaneous Multi Slice (SMS) techniques throughout the body also enhance the ability to speed up examinations,

Graeme Hughes, senior superintendent radiographer explains why these functions are so important. “Keeping patients as still as possible during MRI scanning is a huge challenge as the slightest movement can have a significant impact on the quality of the scan. The respiratory sensors in the MAGNETOM Sola have the ability to control the free breathing acquisitions, reduce the motion distortion from the image, and potentially removing the need for a repeat scan.

Graeme continues: “Patients are traditionally asked to hold their breath in a number of scans we perform, particularly those involving the use of a contrast agent – a special “dye” which allows us to see lesions and tissue abnormalities more clearly on the scans. 

“Many patients have difficulty with this, especially if they are anxious or have respiratory related problems. The MAGNETOM Sola’s new ‘free breathing’ sequences mean the patient no longer needs to hold their breath, as the AI in the system automatically recognises the clinically relevant times to capture images. It’s incredibly clever.”

As well as relieving the pressure from patients to keep still, the bore, or width size of the scanner, is larger than our previous MRI’s at 70 cm, which is good news for patients who suffer from claustrophobia.

The Freeman Hospital is the region’s flagship cardiothoracic centre so it’s great news that the MAGNETOM Sola also offers advanced MR imaging of the heart.

Sarah Branfoot, MRI Superintendent Radiographer says: “MR cardiac scans have historically been time consuming, they also require a significant number of breath holds, which these patients often find challenging to achieve. Cardiac patients by the very nature of their condition have irregular heartbeats and as such it can be difficult to capture high quality images.  The MAGNETOM Sola scanner further develops a technology called “compressed sensing” which assists greatly in cardiac imaging.”

Sarah continues: “Radiographers now have ‘one-touch’ technology to select the area or organ to be scanned on a touch display. The Biomatrix system uses AI to accelerate the patient positioning by up to 30%.”

Sir John said: “Today’s announcement marks yet another milestone in the trust’s longstanding history of bringing the most advanced scanning and diagnostic technology to the North East. 

“This new scanner keeps Newcastle Hospitals at the forefront as a national leader for providing innovative, high quality patient care. It will benefit many of our patients, with faster diagnosis and more targeted treatment planning,as well as providing our talented clinicians with world class facilities to match their world class expertise.”

Notes for Editors

The Newcastle Hospitals is one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK offering more specialist services than any other group of hospitals. These include the care of conditions affecting the brain and spinal cord; bones and joints; breasts; heart and blood vessels; liver, pancreas and kidneys; prostate – all of which use MRI scanning for diagnostic purposes.

MRI Scanning

Clinicians rely on the results of MRI scans and other imaging tests to view inside a patient’s body. These pictures can help doctors find abnormal tissue and evidence of disease.

MRI scanners use radio waves and a strong magnet to generate signals from tissues in the body. A computer translates these signals into a detailed picture that is displayed on a screen.

The MAGNETOM Sola Scanner

The MAGNETOM Sola from Siemens Healthineers is the first 1.5T MRI system with BioMatrix Technology – automatically adjusts to patient bio variability to overcome unwarranted variations in MRI examinations. The outcome: fewer rescans, predictable scheduling and consistent, high-quality personalized exams with increased productivity.

The MAGNETOM Sola, with its 70 cm Open Bore design and Free-breathing Compressed Sensing applications, works towards improving patient experiences, whilst simplified procedures with automated workflow strengthen clinical fields.

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