When Dawei Gui joined the MR team at GE Healthcare in 2005, the industry was still trying to overcome some of the biggest challenges in MR, including long scan times and the need to sometimes rescan patients. Now Gui is part of a team that developed MAGnetic resonance image Compilation (MAGiC), which helps address both of those issues.
MAGiC is a software application that helps make neurological MR exams significantly faster – reducing scan time from approximately 30 minutes to just 6 minutes. With neuro exams accounting for approximately 30 percent of MRIs, MAGiC has the potential to improve the MRI experience for thousands of patients every year.
It´s similar to editing a digital photograph, allowing radiologists to manipulate an image after it’s taken. For the first time ever, clinicians can generate multiple image contrasts in a single MRI scan – including T1, T2, STIR, T1 FLAIR, T2 FLAIR, Dual IR, Phase Sensitive IR, and Proton Density weighted images. This reduces the need for rescans and additional patient visits, saving both patients and clinicians time and money.
GE Healthcare partnered with Swedish software company SyntheticMR to develop the technology, which recently received FDA clearance.
Gui is an Architect who helps develop MR applications, including MAGiC. We asked Gui to give The Pulse a sneak peek into the technology and how it will help radiologists and patients.
How is MAGiC different than traditional MR scans?
This is the first application from the industry to provide a multi-contrast MRI technique to the radiologist.
Normally for each kind of contrast, you need to do an individual scan. We do have some applications that provide quantitative maps for clinical use, such as 3D ASL, which quantitatively measures cerebral blood flow in the brain. But MAGiC is a lot more than that. It provides quantitative T1 maps, T2 maps and Proton Density maps, together with the RF transmit B1 maps. After the data is acquired, the radiologist can adjust the controlling parameters to get the desired contrast to more easily differentiate the potential lesions and normal tissues. In a single scan, they can adjust the parameters to get different contrasts (such as T1 contrast images, T2, T1 flair, T2 flair and proton density.) This type of flexibility to manipulate the image after a scan is what’s really unique about MAGiC.
What’s the benefit of using MAGiC?
The real benefit of MAGiC is the amount of time saved and the flexibility it gives the radiologist after the patient goes home. Because all those contrasts can be done after one single acquisition, it saves time for the hospital and the patient. The majority of the time, it saves up to two-thirds of the scanning time for brain studies, so that’s a huge benefit.
This is a very exciting, industry-first advancement for the MR; we’re excited to provide such a comprehensive solution to customers.
What is behind the technology?
MAGiC involves a dedicated pulse sequence design based on physics, so we can simulate how the signal behaves during the data acquisition period and then inverse the quantitative information including the T1 and T2 maps based on the acquired data.
The unusual thing is that normally we are able to calculate only one quantitative map from the data acquisition. Now we can compute multiple information maps from a single data acquisition, which makes the process more complicated, but we use the physics behind it to make it possible. That’s why we call it MAGiC!
What do radiologists like about MAGiC?
The most helpful thing is that they can adjust the contrast after data is acquired. Because normally when the patient is in [the scanner], the technologists will select the predefined MR protocols to get the images. Later on, they might find the images they got are not the best in terms of contrast for clinical use, and it’s very hard to get the patient back and rescan them. With MAGiC, the data is acquired and the afterwards you can adjust the imaging contrast parameters to assist you with your diagnosis—this is a huge benefit.
Which patients can benefit the most from MAGiC?
First, I think [MAGiC] will benefit our patients. For example, we can shorten the time for pediatric scans. And it may be very helpful for facilities that want to get the scan done as quickly as possible to increase patient throughput.
On the other hand, it will also benefit our radiologist and hospital. With conventional MR scans, you’d have one contrast scan, then another after another. With MAGiC, it’s one scan. Normally a brain scan is about 20 minutes long. Now it’s significantly reduced, so that’s a huge benefit for the tech, radiologist and the patient.
What was the process to develop MAGiC?
During this development and the cooperation process, we faced a lot of challenges, and we worked with a lot of engineers and scientists to see how much we can improve MAGiC.
We did intensive research cooperation before 510(k) approval, including in-house volunteer studies and clinical evaluations at external research sites. We received lots of good feedback about the capabilities and the future benefits of the application to the MR industry.
One thing we learned is that when you evaluate a technique in-house, sometimes you may not be able to observe all the challenging situations as will be seen in clinical environment. In clinical evaluations, it will be tested on patients with various clinical conditions, unlike the relatively consistent healthy volunteers we see in-house. We noticed the new challenges after the clinical evaluation, and made a huge effort to extend the capability of the application to make it more generalized so it worked better for different situations.
What’s the future for MR?
I think MAGiC is a major advancement for the MR industry. It’s part of the trend for precision medicine, which is the future of healthcare.