UNNC to introduce world’s first 1.5T rotatable dual-gesture cryogen-free MRI

28 July 2020

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Recently, the research project titled with"Development of 1.5 T cryogen-free superconducting magnets" has achieved a phased breakthrough and UNNC is expected to introduce the world's first 1.5T rotatable dual-gesture magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner soon. 

This is a collaboration project among UNNC, Ningbo Gaosi Superconducting Technology Co. Ltd, Ningbo XinGaoYi Medical Equipment Co. Ltd, the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, and China Academy of Sciences University Ningbo Hwamei Hospital (Ningbo No.2 Hospital), and the project is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.

Helium, a rare gas and a by-product of natural gas industry, is the ideal cooling medium to achieve the extreme-low temperature in MRI, but has become strategic material and experienced a rocketed price rise in recent years. The development of cryogen-free superconducting magnets has become more and more important.

"We have successfully developed the first prototype 1.5T cryogen-free superconducting magnet, and run it for over one year to prove its feasibility and stability," said Dr Chengbo Wang, the director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Research Centre at UNNC. This new magnet replaces the refrigerant liquid helium with low-cost copper, makes the new MRI system extremely safe. It is expected to save six billion RMB of cost within five years when replacing the traditional MRI system. 

According to Dr Wang, his team is responsible for the development of innovative applications for this new cryogen-free MRI. Currently his team is working on developing a rotatable dual-gesture 1.5T MRI, which is probably the first clinically available whole-body rotatable MRI around the globe. The machine is expected to settle in UNNC in the near future. 

“Due to the explosive property of liquid helium, conventional MRI are difficult and not safe to move or rotate,” explains Dr Wang. Therefore, the successful development of the whole-body superconducting cryogen-free magnets indicates many new breakthroughs such as mobile MRI, or MRI scans in a standing gesture.

Dr Wang and his team are also seeking solutions to install cryogen-free MRIs in small or enclosed spaces, which will significantly boost the improvement in mobile medical technology.