By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & Technology
A first-of its-kind in Missouri, a new state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner arrived in early August to the NextGen Precision Health building under construction on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia. The building is scheduled to open in October 2021.
The MRI scanner is the most powerful in the state. The 25-ton Siemens Healthineers MAGNETOM Terra 7-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner (7T MRI) was lowered into the NextGen Precision Health building with a crane and precisely maneuvered into its permanent location in a new imaging suite. The 7T MRI packs more than twice the imaging power of conventional MRI machines, allowing researchers to see in greater detail the structures associated with several neurological diseases and conditions affecting muscles and joints. The addition was made possible through the university’s collaboration with Siemens Healthineers.
“The new Terra 7T magnet is completely new to the marketplace. There’s about 12 of them in the United States today. When we received our FDA clearance on the 7T, it was the first in the world to be able to do both clinical and research on one system,” explained James Bertrand, senior vice president of Siemens Healthineers. “Now why Missouri? Actually, probably the better question is why not? Like with most things, great innovation comes from great vision and great leadership.”
The MRI can help patients across the state in need of the powerful imaging. One example is early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, when medication could slow disease progression.
“There are certain very small structures in the brain that it affects first. And with the 7T, that increased image clarity that we get, we can actually see and measure changes in those very, very small structures of the brain early,” said Talissa Altes, MD, the chair of the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology.
The goal is for MRI to help advance research throughout the University of Missouri System, including evidence-based mental health and addiction sciences studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Some of the UMSL research will rely on the advanced neuroimaging methods.
“The ability to effect and change healthcare delivery across the state of Missouri and how we do that with our technologies that we can bring to the table, our research that we bring to the table, and combining that with what the university can do for citizens all across Missouri is completely unique,” said Bertrand.
NextGen Precision Health researchers and doctors from all institutions in the University of Missouri System will see more detailed images than ever before.
“You look at it like a TV,” explained Bertrand. “The quality of a TV in 1985 versus ultra high definition TVs today. The clarity and the resolution that you get today is unmatched for what you could see in 1985. That’s the difference between a 3T magnet and a 7T magnet.”