GE’s new SIGNA Premier MRI scanner has been developed to offer better images of the brain, however it also provides sharper images from other parts of the body too, including knees, vital organs and elbows. For scanning the elbow, for instance, instead of having the patient lying still for a 25-minute scan with an arm wrapped in a bulky plastic tube to be kept bent above the head, SIGNA Premier uses a more comfortable alternative: a coil, shaped like a mat, that is laid over the patient’s body like a blanket. Called AIR Technology it is lightweight and also offers a more conclusive body scan thanks to its extra channels. SIGNA Premier’s head coil has 48 channels for probing anomalies, and patients wear it like a helmet. And while older MRI scanners have a knee coil with eight channels, SIGNA Premier’s has 18, allowing a clearer definition of the muscles and cartilage surrounding the knee joint, for instance. Sharper images can also have a direct impact on diagnosing and treating patients who are suspected of having cancer, enabling for example the visualization of smaller imperfections in the prostate, thereby helping to reduce the number of painful biopsies on prostate patients.
SIGNA Premier’s wider bore — an opening of 70 centimeters in diameter versus the typical 60 — also helps make a scan easier for that 5 percent of patients who suffer from claustrophobia.