MRI systems

Technological advancements and growing clinical applications   have  made MRI one of the most sought after imaging techniques

The imaging industry is at the cusp of a revolutionary growth owing to constant evolution of technology. The incessant growth has been a result of a combination of factors, which include the vital role of imaging in diagnosis and therapy and growing information technology applications, among others. Newer clinical applications continue to provide the requisite fodder for maintaining this dynamic growth. Since its inception in the 1970s, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become one of the largest and most crucial segments of the imaging equipment market. Originally developed for imaging of the central nervous system, the scope of MRI applications has now expanded to include imaging of the entire human body. Dr H Satishchandra, Professor and Head, Department of Radiodiagnosis and Imaging, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Medical Superintendent, Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital says, “The prime concern of diagnostic imaging is to direct appropriate treatment at the earliest. MRI systems that improve image quality and imaging speed can ensure this, at the same time it is pertinent for the systems to be patient friendly.”

The non-invasive MRI technique is capable of generating elaborate images of human body’s internal areas, through the use of radio waves and magnetic field. Advancements in technology have led to development of MRI systems that are used for effective diagnosis in the fields of cancer screening, neurosurgery planning, angioplasty and breast screening. Dr H Satishchandra says, “MRI has evolved from an unfavourable beginning in 1970s to an unrivalled imaging modality today. Apart from providing an excellent anantomical display in any plane with no radiation risk to the patient it has made strong inroads into noninvasive therapy.”

The global MRI equipment market is expected to reach US $7.4 billion by the year 2015, as per reports. Although, the market was stung by recession in the past years, yet it has flung back and achieved a good growth rate

The growing clinical applications of MRI have been a result of continuous advancements in technology and increasing Tesla strengths. The enormous market growth in this segment has also been a result of the increased clinical applications.Traditional bone scanning techniques are increasingly being replaced by whole body MR techniques that have splurged in the market. With reduced scanning times, whole body MR is a promising clinical application. The preferred machine for this application is the latest 3 Tesla equipment that provide scope for parallel imaging. MRI combined with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is used in Functional MRI (fMRI), which is currently one of the most popular MRI techniques. The structural image is provided by the MRI and functional image is provided by the PET, which results in superior imaging, particularly useful for brain neurological disorders. Functional MRI is a very powerful method to map brain functions with relatively high spatial and temporal resolution. Experts suggest that the clear pictures of the brainstem and posterior brain, provided by fMRI, are difficult to view through CT scan, which makes it a better imaging modality as compared to the CT, for the brain.

 “With the advent of new and advanced applications like fMRI, MR Elastography and MRgFUS, MRI has revolutionised medical care”

Dr H Satishchandra
Professor and Head, Department of Radiodiagnosis and Imaging Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute & Medical Superintendent, Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital

There is also a growing implementation of MRI in interventional radiology applications. MRI techniques are being used for image-guided minimally invasive procedures, such as biopsies. Cardiac and breast procedures are now mostly performed through MRI.

MRI can distinguish tumours or other lesions from normal tissues and this has increased its popularity for intraoperative MRI for brain or spine surgeries. The American Cancer Society (ACS) approved the use of MRI to screen women at high risk of breast cancer. MRI has the ability to detect small abnormal breast lesions, which makes it an effective tool for detecting breast tumours. With advancement in cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMRI) has over the past few years, MRI appears to be a more sensitive test in detecting the most common form of stroke as well as for diagnosing haemorrhagic strokes. MRI for cardiovascular imaging breast imaging and so on are emerging as the most promising newer applications of MRI.

Dr TBS Buxi, Head “ Department of CT Scan and MRI, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital says, “The endeavor of almost all companies manufacturing MRI equipment has enhanced from routine anatomical body imaging to the physiological and metabolic aspects of the morbid pathology.

 “From a buyer’s perspective, it is essential to understand the clinical application of various MRI sequences, as additional software into the machine is an additional cost to the buyer”

Dr TBS Buxi
Head “ Department of CT Scan and MRI, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

The ushering of higher gradient field strength, adaptive coils with more number of channels, shorter sequences and digital transfer of data has resulted in super class images. Spectroscopy, tractography, functional imaging, diffusion-perfusion imaging not only help in early diagnosis but in many instances in characterization of disease processes and surgical planning. High strength MR machines with a number of newer sequences are now available in the market.” He further adds, “All of these sequences are not provided free of cost with the magnet, irrespective of the Tesla strength. Many a sequences which sound very lucrative are not really used in our daily practice. It is advisable to visit multiple centers using these sequences to understand the utility and functionality of each and then decide if it is of added advantage in the vendor’s setup.”

Redefined market trends

The global MRI equipment market is expected to reach US $7.4 billion by the year 2015, as per reports. Although, the market was stung by recession in the past years, yet it has flung back and achieved a good growth rate. The current growth can be attributed to continuous improvements in image quality and development of newer techniques, especially for imaging specific portions of brain’s complex structures. Growth is also being propelled by the widening scope of clinical applications, including promising applications such as MRI for breast imaging and cardiovascular imaging.

The highly popular applications of MRI such as abdomen imaging and musculoskeletal imaging are currently gaining momentum. Sharing the Indian MRI market statistics, Umesh Kumar KN, Business Head “ MRI, Siemens Healthcare, says, “MRI Market in India is growing fast at 13 -14 percent year on year. One of the reasons could be that the ratio between the population and MR installations is one of the lowest compared to the standard ratio in the world. However at the same time, increasing awareness towards healthcare is leading to the increase of awareness in the field of MRI.” He adds, “The current trend is upbeat and year on year the results are surpassing our expectations. The future is looking optimistic with the revolutionary MR PET being introduced in the industry, which is expected to take the MR market to a different level.”

The newer 3T MRI systems have been gaining acceptance owing to the various advantages they offer over the conventional 1.5T systems. With 3T MRI minutest structures such as blood vessels as small as 200-300 micron can be viewed. 3T MRI systems have almost 3-4 times higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) because of which, they can precisely localise areas of activation, thus enabling accurate mapping of brain function. It also offers much faster and higher quality and resolution of spectroscopy. As per the latest trend, many 1.5T replacement systems are expected to shift to 3T systems.

“Siemens Healthcare offers a wide range of products from Permanent Magnet 0.35 Tesla to 3 Tesla. Our USP is in unique applications like SWI, SPACE, GRAPPA and Angio studies with surface coils. Tim technology through, which one can enhance patient comfort and productivity is one of our major USP”

Umesh Kumar KN
Business Head “ MRI
Siemens Healthcare

Country trends

The United States, Japan, and Europe collectively account for a major share of the global MRI market, as stated per reports.

The impact of the global economic meltdown on BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India & China) has been limited, allowing governments to continue focusing on the implementation of long-term initiatives aimed at improving healthcare infrastructure. The Indian market, hence, has been experiencing significant growth. The large population base in countries like India and China attract growth because of their high population. Demand is anticipated primarily from stand-alone imaging facilities, and private hospitals, as compared to public hospitals.

What is your perception about the MR equipment market In India?

Presently, the Indian MR equipment market is growing at a rate of 20-25 percent and this is much faster than many of the developed countries in the world. In 2010 alone more than 200 units of MRI models are sold in India. Out of this, more than 65 percent were 1.5T, but permanent Magnets still have their own place and marketability with more than 40 units sold in 2010.

Sanrad represents US based MRI research company, MDT, which had set up their manufacturing facility in Beijing, China and MDT MRI products have been well accepted in India within a short span of last 4 years .
Sanrad (MDT) even though a new entrant in Indian MRI market, did remarkably well in 2010 crossing 12 installations since its introduction in 2008. We will soon be launching our new 1.5T MRI model in India and will be signing the distributor agreement very shortly.Do you think permanent magnet MRI has a good future in India?We feel that in countries like India, there is still a lot of potential for permanent MRI as there is a huge requirement for cost effective MRI units, particularly in rural places. Refurbished permanent MRI is not a good solution because of shortage of spare parts for these units and quality problems due to aging. Our fast moving 0.3T Centauri 3000 is a very good entry level MRI system and it is a better solution than investing into refurbished MRI, which are more than 10 year old in technology and short coil life.Who are the key players in Indian MRI market?The Indian MRI market is dominated mostly by MNCs like GE healthcare, Philips healthcare and Siemens Medical solutions, but there are also important players in permanent MRI market like Sanrad.
At present we deal with only permanent MRI models thus we do not have any direct competition with the above mentioned MNCs and we only can see Hitachi as our major competitor. What are the various products offered by you in this segment?

We have mainly two models 0.3T Centuari, 3000 which is the entry level permanent MRI and also 0.45T Mstar 4500, which is presently the highest strength open MRI installed in India.  MDT had successfully developed world’s highest strength 0.7T permanent magnet Xstar, 7000 which will be ready for marketing by end of this year.
MDT is the first permanent MRI developed with Higher Order Active Shimming, which will help to achieve a high homogeneity of the magnet.

This will in turn result in high quality distortion free image specially diffusion and thin slice images.
Al the models of MDT are equipped with this revolutionary technology. Our entry level 0.3T centuari 3000 is very economically priced whereas our premium model 0.45T mstar 4500 is still cheaper than most of the 0.35-0.4T competitor models.

What are Sanrad’s future plans in MRI segment?

We will be introducing our brand new 1.5T model very shortly as we have to cater the needs of all kinds of MRI customers in India. We also have plans to introduce MR guided ultrasound ablation therapy system developed by MDT in near future. We hope to become the number one MRI company in Indian permanent MRI segment in next 5 years.

The Asia-Pacific market for closed MRI systems is projected to reach US $687.6 million by 2014. GE Healthcare, Siemens Healthcare, and Philips Healthcare remain the market leaders worldwide, with a global market share of almost three-fourth.

Growing from step to step, the MRI has evolved as one of the most preferred imaging techniques. With growing clinical applications, especially for brain, breast and cardiac imaging, MRI will continue to grow and evolve.

Currently, MRI is also one of the fastest growing segments in the imaging market and the Indian market for MRI is enormous. Furthermore, the increasing Tesla strengths will provide enough impetus for growth, worldwide.

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