Indiana Univ. School of Medicine gets most powerful MRI machine in state and one of the first of this strength in the U.S.

December 07, 2001

INDIANAPOLIS - Radiologists and researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine have received their biggest and most expensive holiday present of the year. A $2.2 million Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner, the most powerful one in the state, was moved by crane Friday, Dec. 7, to its new home on the medical center campus.

The 10-ton MRI is unique because of its magnetic strength and because it only images the head, unlike other MRI scanners that perform whole-body scans. Those scanners can produce anxiety for patients who suffer from claustrophobia. The new scanner is 3 Tesla in strength. Tesla is a measurement of magnet strength.

"The new MRI is twice as strong as any other one in the state of Indiana and one of the first of this strength in the U.S.," said Mark Lowe, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology and director of the IU School of Medicine 3 T Research MRI Facility. "The federal Food and Drug Administration only recently approved the use of MRIs of this strength."

Until now, the strongest MRI in Indiana was 11/2 Tesla. One Tesla is 20,000 times the strength of the magnetic field of the earth, said Dr. Lowe. It also is equivalent to the strength of the magnets used in salvage yards to lift automobiles.

"The higher the Tesla, the better the visualization of fine structure in the brain," said Dr. Lowe. "The new MRI will be state-of-the-art for imaging neurological structures in the brain as well as blood vessels."

Patients with brain cancers, stroke, blood vessel abnormalities, aneurysms and other neurologic conditions will benefit from the stronger capacity of the MRI because a better defined and higher quality image is produced by the stronger magnetic field, he said. The magnet in an MRI scanner generates a static magnetic field; additional equipment modulates the field to generate an image. The stronger the magnet, the better defined the image.
Funding for the MRI was provided by the IU School of Medicine Department of Radiology.

Indiana University

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