MRT at the heart of things

Monday 15th September 2008
The core of the magnetic resonance tomograph, a magnet weighing 32 tons, is lifted from the transporter. Courtesy: PTB

The only magnetic resonance tomograph of the 7 tesla generation in the world, in which a metrology institute is also involved, was delivered to its new location, the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC) for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch this month. Magnetic resonance tomographs, which use a magnetic field of 7 tesla,have not yet been in operation in hospitals and clinics, but solely served research.

For the first time in the world, cardiovascular
research carried out on such a device is
now also to play an important role. The magnetic resonance tomograph costing approximately  €7m and weighing 35 tonnes is in contrast to the 1.5 and 3 tesla devices which have largely been the norm to date.

(Right: The magnet has reached his final position: it is surrounded by a cage of steel weighing 250 tons which will be used to protect the surrounding area from the magnetic field. The hole in the center of the magnet will be the 'pipe' in which the patient will be conveyed in order to be examined.)

Its higher magnetic field will provide sharper images and better insights into the smallest structures of the human body. The aim is to detect the risk or commencement of an illness at a very early stage in heart, brain and cancer research.

Heart research by magnetic resonance tomography is viewed as very difficult. As such, a demanding task will be waiting for the national metrology institute, The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) scientists from January 2009, when the device has been fully installed. As the partner dealing with physics and technical issues in the joint project, they are responsible for making the unique potential of this tomograph useful for applications in clinics.

The PTB will, moreover, find the ideal conditions to advance its work on patient safety in high-field tomographs and on the development of new concepts in MRT imaging. The other partners in the project, besides the Max Delbrück Center and the PTB, are Siemens, the constructors of the 7 tesla device, and the Charité hospital. The new ultra-high-field MRT equipment of the ECRC has been completed with an even higher precision  9.4 tesla small animal MRT of the Bruker company which was supplied three weeks ago.


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