MRI Comparison Guide
Looking to Upgrade the Software in Your GE MRI Machine?
Then this is the place to start.
Whether you’re facing an end-of-life dilemma for your 9x or 11x MRI systems or your facility is seeking to advance the kinds of scans made available to your patient base, it may be time to upgrade the software and, subsequently, increase the coil channels in your GE MRI machines. But how do you know what you’re getting in terms of applications and options for each upgrade?
Same Magnet, New Capabilities
The heart of your scanner is the magnet – most likely the industry standard LCC CXK4 magnet. The core function of the magnet – to create a strong magnetic field – remains constant (as does the zero boil-off cooling system) no matter the electronics and coil channels surrounding it.
The GE continuum is unique from any other OEM because this platform allows you to add additional technologies and capabilities to your MRI system by upgrading the software, without having to replace the magnet or go through the costly hassle of a new installation of a machine. This reduces your downtime (from a 30-day rig out to just a 5-day upgrade with new applications training for your team) and saves your budget from construction costs like removing a wall or window and having to replace your RF shield (why spend half a million when you can get the advancements your facility needs for $250,000?).
So, when we talk about investing in an upgrade, what we’re really talking about is a cost-effective, time-saving way to advance the capabilities of your MRI machine.
To do this, you’ve probably been scouring the GE Buyer’s Guides and educational materials for a simple, cohesive comparison between the software and coil channels. As you may have already discovered, a comprehensive guide of this nature has been lacking in the industry. SwMR is here to fix that.
9x – 4-Channel Coils
The 9x was really the start of the GE continuum (following the 5X that was discontinued in the late 90’s) and it remains the most widely-sold MRI platform ever. There are still plenty of 9x systems on the market and the LCC magnet itself still has a huge install base. A lot of the customers that have the 9x are looking for an upgrade, especially since the 9x and 11x were given and end of life sentence by GE this year (2019).
9x Electronic Capabilities:
9x system has great upgradeability and it is a very durable system. The problem with the 9x is there are so many variations and the equipment has changed so much through the platform that you aren’t always sure what type of gradient or RF you have – it could be analog or digital (better image quality when you make this switch) on the 9x platform. Everything above 9x uses a digital RF, but this older system may still rely on an analog interface.
There’s also several different slew rates depending on which gradient you have. The slew rate is the measurement on how the gradients are performing, it measures the speed rate of descent or ascent of a gradient. The higher the gradient, the more accurate the spatial data becomes and the better chance you have of getting a high-definition image. Think of it like the difference between a 720p and 1080p television set – the 9x is closer to a lower resolution 720p while 16x and 23x systems are more akin to the highest resolution 1080p HDTVs.
9x Option Applications:
The 9x system comes with the following options:
Echo Planar Imaging
Fast Gradient Echo
Fast Spin Echo & Flair
Time Of Flight
Phase Contrast Vascular
Three Plane Localizer
Smartprep 2000 Upgrade
Probe 2000 Upgrade
Interactive Vascular Image
Spectro Analysis Ge
Preformed Procedure Step
Fgret Real Time
Spiral Real Time
Idrive Pro Plus
Probe 3D Brain
Line Scan Diffusion Image
Probe 3D Prostate
4-channel coils provide the basic receiver pathway in your MRI system. As you increase channels, you shorten acquisition time and deliver better image quality.
The 9x is a great base for upgrading. It was the pinnacle of evolution at the time of its creation and the starting point of the GE continuum. However, with the older electronics come less capabilities. You could also have a 9x system with very old gradients, but once you move past the 9x platform, all upgrades have the highest-quality gradients.
11x – 8-Channel Coils
With a need for more dynamic applications in vascular, body and cardiac imaging, the 11x system was introduced to the GE Continuum. This technology not only provides a higher-resolution image, especially for neurologic and orthopedic applications, but they also provide the image processing horsepower to handle increased data. With the 11x, you can integrate the more advanced applications into your routine clinical practice.
11x Electronic Capabilities:
11x systems are all digital RF and all SGA gradient. This improved gradient package offers a huge increase in image quality. 11x also introduced us to the first version of ASSET parallel imaging technology, which cut the scan times in half and decreased patient exam times.
With the 11x system you also get access to Accelerator Data Management technology, providing a high-volume image database for faster workflow.
11x Option Applications:
With the 11x system you get breakthrough imaging options that enhance your diagnostics for stroke evaluation, peripheral vascular imaging, and breast cancer staging among other clinical applications.
Introduction of Propeller Technology
The 11x system introduced us to the revolutionary image data collection method that acquires data in radial “blades” rotating in sequence until the image acquisition is complete.
Propeller technology produces high-resolution image through a 25-75% improvement in contrast-to-noise ratio (without time penalty), reduced sensitivity to patient motion, and reduced sensitivity to magnetic susceptibility artifacts or other abnormalities disturbing the magnetic field.
The 11x system comes with the following additional options (including all of the options of the previous 9x system):
Fat Water 2001
3D Delayed Enhancements
3D Fat Sat Fiesta
8-channel coils provide a visible improvement in image quality especially in the areas of neurovascular, spine, body and cardiac imaging. 8-channel coils also improve the speed of acquisition. These coils can be optimized for parallel imaging techniques (like ASSET), improved SNR (signal to noise ratio), and overall better image resolution.
Conclusion: With the 9x system, some of the parts have aged out and are not reliable anymore (analog RF, for instance). On the 11x platform, however, you get more reliability because this is when things like gradients and digital RF started standardizing and becoming easily transferable to future systems. The parts for these systems are still being produced (or are purchasable from a provider like SWMR if you have an end of life machine) and remain a reliable system for quality imaging services.
12x – 8-Channel HD Coils
The 12x system allows for high-definition imaging that allows you to overcome challenge diagnostics that are hard to examine using conventional MRI technology.
12x Electronic Capabilities:
12x introduced us to the HFA gradient amplifier, which increases the energy of the signal before it reaches the coils and helps to achieve better image quality.
12x Option Applications:
One of the top benefits of upgrading to a 12x system, in terms of options, is the Lava sequence for liver scans, which allows you to get multiple types of scans at the same time using slice coverage. You can now get different T1 and T2 images on the same scan, along with enhanced image contrast and uniform fat suppression.
The 12x system comes with the following additional options (including all of the options of the previous systems):
3T Restricted Apps
2D Fat Sat Fiesta
8 Channel System
16 Channel System
8-Channel HD Coils:
The 12x system, like the 11x, uses 8-channel coils. However, with the 12x you have the option of using HD coils, in which the preamplifier is built into the coil so the signal is amplified right at the coil and increases SNR.