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AI and smart coil technologies are transforming MR

Hollis Potter, MD
Chairman, Department of Radiology and Imaging Hospital for Special Surgery New York
Operating an imaging department in an era of stagnant or declining reimbursements is challenging, and maximizing MR system efficiency is paramount. To achieve that aim, it is necessary to decrease image acquisition time without sacrificing image quality to maintain one’s market share and the continuous integration of imaging into successful healthcare delivery.
The advent of deep learning techniques and denoising algorithms afford high-resolution, consistent MR imaging with a reduction in acquisition times of 30% or more. This permits schedule expansion and the ability to image additional patients, but also provides even superior spatial resolution and enables more accurate, reliable diagnoses. When it comes to MSK imaging, standard visualization of the superficial layers of articular cartilage, small chondral flaps, and the thinner cartilage of the wrist, elbow, ankle and hip is now standard, obviating the need for intra-articular contrast. The reliance of orthopedic surgeons upon preoperative imaging assessment cannot be overstated, helping to guide management and surgical approach. In this capacity, MR imaging is incorporated into the concept of precision medicine with tailored approaches that are founded in high-quality preoperative assessment.
AIR™ Recon DL is a technology available across MR platforms enabling radiologists to utilize high-resolution scanning regardless of the strength of the magnetic field or age of the system. At the Hospital for Special Surgery, we have an array of MR systems extending from SIGNA™ HDx 1.5T to state-of-the-art SIGNA™ Premier 3.0T systems. Regardless of the age or field strength of the MR system, the expectation from the referring clinician is that they will receive a high-quality, accurate assessment of the patient’s condition, which is now achievable using the AIR™ Recon DL software.
In pediatric patients and pregnant women, we can reduce scan times; in the former group, this often obviates the need for anesthesia and its attendant risks, allowing for the acquisition of images with almost no motion due to the shortened scan time. The newly released AIR™ Recon DL PROPELLER has been a game changer for our facility, with high fluid-sensitive tissue contrast and markedly improved image quality compared to the predecessor pulse sequence. With regards to peripheral nerve imaging, AIR™ Recon DL has enabled the routine use of 3D CUBE-STIR imaging of the brachial plexus by decreasing scan time and providing superior through-plane resolution (1 mm isotropic). For assessing nerve and muscle contrast in the setting of denervation, Dixon (Flex) techniques are preferred, and AIR™ Recon DL with Flex markedly decreases the scan times traditionally associated with these techniques.
In this issue of SIGNA™ Pulse of MR, there is a plethora of articles focused on this revolutionary solution that is changing the paradigm of MR imaging, in particular the use of AIR™ Recon DL PROPELLER in musculoskeletal imaging and beyond. As noted in several articles, the combination of AIR™ Recon DL and AIR™ Coils delivers a new standard of higher SNR, shorter scan times and better patient comfort, leading to exceptional MR imaging capabilities.
AI techniques will continue to be integrated into all imaging departments and will expand across sequences and MR systems. Further integration of smart coil technology will improve throughput by standardizing patient positioning and image acquisition, minimizing coil movement for larger anatomic coverage, and allowing for further integration of imaging into a successful orthopedic practice.