Spectrum Instrumentation has announced that the company’s digitizers and AWGs has helped Neoscan’s latest MRI scanner for babies, to have a much smaller and lighter weight. The MRI Scanner can be placed directly in the children’s ward of the hospital, to keep journeys short and to scan sick babies in their sleep.
“Having worked with MRI scanners for many years, I recognized the problem,” explained Stefan Roell, Founder of 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. Because of this, sometimes an MRI scan is not even done. 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. Carrying a sleeping baby only a few meters 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.”
“As a start-up, we could not afford to create specialized hardware and so we used this route of high quality, standard cards providing a platform to run our software on,” added Roell. “This meant that we could focus our skills on the software development with very fast development cycles in the knowledge that the hardware was already tried and tested. This was only possible because of the design quality of the Spectrum cards. For MRI, there must be phase coherence in the 64MHz signals, otherwise, there will be cancellation effects. In practice, that means that the AWG and matching digitizer have to have sub-nanosecond coherence precision, which the Spectrum cards achieve. However, Spectrum was outstanding in helping us with technical support both in the specification of the best cards to use and then again during the implementation. A rival proposal took weeks longer to arrive and was grossly over-specified and over-priced as they had not made the effort to understand the detail of our project.”
Roell concluded by saying: “This approach of a readily available hardware platform running specially designed software worked very well for us as it has enabled us to create a product much faster. I think it is a very elegant solution that could be used for many other complex machines such as CT scanners and Ultrasound machines, especially as it enables innovative new approaches to be easily tried and evaluated just through software changes.”
Key to the much smaller design is the use of digitizers and AWGs by Spectrum Instrumentation that offer sub-nanosecond, coherence precision to generate the scanner signals and capture the results.
The technology and field strength of the Neoscan machine is identical to current scanners so that no new clinical studies are required to validate it. Achieving this needed several innovations by the company.