PC cards enable MRI scanner for babies

May 12, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
PC cards enable MRI scanner for babies
Spectrum Instrumentation in Germany has supplied key test electronics for a small MRI scanner used for babies

A MRI system developed by Neoscan Solutions of Germany with PC cards from Spectrum Instrumentation is a quarter the size of the 8000kg scanners used for adults and so can be placed directly on a children’s ward in a hospital.

The system uses digitisers and arbitrary waveform generators (AWG) cards from Spectrum with sub-nanosecond resolution to generate the test signals and capture results, using a GPU in the PC to process the results.  

"Having worked with MRI scanners for many years, I recognised the problem," said Dr Stefan Roell, founder of startup Neoscan Solutions in Germany. "Scanning a sick child usually means a long journey out of the ward to the scanner and babies may need support equipment that is not easily transportable.”

“We have designed an MRI scanner specifically for new-borns and infants which means that the hole in the middle is only 30cm in diameter, not 60cm. As a result, the scanner is much smaller (170cm x 150cm x 110cm) and can go through standard doorways,” he said. “With a weight of only 2000 kg, it can be located on standard floors and, needing only ten square metres, it can be installed in a spare room directly on the children's ward. Carrying a sleeping baby only a few metres to the MRI is a big advantage, saving a long journey through the building and the need for sedatives to keep the baby motionless for the scan."

To shrink the size, the team developed a dry magnet that would create the standard 1.5 Tesla field inside the hole, but without requiring liquid helium. This is done by an inner, cylindrical magnet generating 2.5T and then an outer cylindrical magnet that counteracts the inner field to provide strong, active magnet shielding so that there are no stray magnetic field left beyond about 1m from the scanner.

For the control electronics, Neoscan uses a PC which runs the software that Neoscan has created plus

The MRI scanner for babies and toddlers developed by Neoscan

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