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On 7-T MRI And Potential Hot New Technologies

December 9, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Neuroradiology, Practice Management
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Seven-tesla MRI imaging is going to be big. So says A. Gregory Sorensen, MD, who this spring moved from academia, where he held professorships at MIT, Harvard, and Oxford, to the boardroom as CEO of Siemens’ North American health care division.

DOTmed News’ Brendon Nofziger quizzed Dr. Sorensen at last week’s Radiological Society of North America annual meeting in Chicago. The interview is worth a read.

Dr. Sorensen said he thought 7-T would soon find the breakthrough application that would push it into the imaging mainstream. Specifically, “I think neuroscience will be the place.”

He’s a neuroradiologist, so you might expect him to say that. But, acknowledging that the powerful machines haven’t yet found a dazzling clinical application, he added, “However, we’re poised to do that in a couple of diseases.”

As for justifying the machines’ cost, he gave this example: “When you look at the cost of treating multiple sclerosis, the therapies are very expensive. And so even an expensive imaging test that can guide that treatment would be very valuable and could easily justify a high cost for its utilization.”

Screening for Alzheimer’s disease might be another opportunity, Dr. Sorensen said:

The early data in some of the trials suggest that some patients actually are getting their memory back. I mean, it’s remarkable, some of the drugs that are in testing. So I think there actually will be a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease in the not-too-distant future.

He’s not that excited about such potential new modalities as magnetic particle imaging (“when you have to put particles into people, that already puts you into a different regime”) or optical imaging (its chief appeal is low cost, “and that’s hard to get excited about when the cost of other tools keeps going down”).

Instead, he touts still-untapped potential in familiar modes. “If you look at what CT scanners do today versus what they did 10 years ago,” Dr. Sorensen said, “it’s a completely different thing. I would say the same about routine MRI. … Is there another technology like MRI or CT out there that’s going to have such an impact? I don’t see one right now.

“We’re certainly watching, looking for it. But I don’t see anything like that in the future.”

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Have a great weekend, but first, please check today’s Facebook post.

Related seminar: Computed Body Tomography: The Cutting Edge

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