First Clinical 3T MRI Lands in Rochester

February 12, 2007

The  region’s first 3 Tesla magnetic resonance scanner (MRI) for clinical use is now available in Rochester. Located at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s University Imaging at Science Park, the new MRI brings with it important tools to help physicians improve the accuracy of diagnoses and treatments of broad categories of diseases including stroke, brain tumors, epilepsy, musculoskeletal and heart disease.

With a magnet strength of 3 Tesla, or 3T, the new MRI is the most powerful scanner available to patients today in routine clinical use. The technology has been eagerly awaited by physicians in the Rochester region, who often refer patients to Syracuse or even Detroit for more sophisticated imaging when needed.

David Waldman, M.D., chair of the Department of Imaging Sciences at the Medical Center, compares the images produced by the 3T scanner to how people might view a television show on high definition television. And it is this precise imaging that will help physicians pinpoint disease earlier, especially for certain types of cancer and multiple sclerosis.

"We are proud to continue to bring to Rochester the newest advances in imaging techniques,” Waldman said. “The outstanding image quality captured by the 3T MRI will help to provide more accurate and timely diagnoses, quicker scans for patients, less likelihood of rescans, and allow us to introduce new and important services such as Functional Imaging.”

MRIs use a magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of anatomy. The magnet strength is the key to image clarity – the stronger the magnet, the more clear the image. How strong is the magnet in a 3T MRI?  Magnets that pick up junk cars have a strength of about 1.5T. Or, put another way, the 3T is 60,000 times as powerful as the earth's magnetic field.

The new scanner also will allow radiologists at the Medical Center to introduce a relatively new type of imaging called Functional MRI, or fMRI.  fMRI allows physicians to non-invasively conduct “brain mapping,” or, pinpoint to millimeters, areas of the brain that generate specific actions, like speech or  movement. This information is critical when planning any type of brain surgery (for epilepsy or tumors, among others) that may impact brain tissue near vital movement or thought areas. 

University Imaging at Science Park is now home to the most advanced imaging available in the community. In addition to the 3T MRI, the facility also houses the region’s first permanent PET/CT Scanner.

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Germaine Reinhardt
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