London is to benefit from a massive 20-ton scanner which is set to transform clinical research in the capital.
The state-of-the-art ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine will be the first of its kind in London and will be located at St Thomas’ Hospital, where a new clinical imaging research facility will be created to support its use. The facility will allow world-leading scientists to increase the understanding of a wide range of conditions and ultimately improve patient care. A special focus will be research into diseases affecting babies and children.
In order to get the huge scanner, which is three metres wide and three metres high, inside St Thomas’ Hospital, part of a wall will need to be removed and special foundations will be put in place to support its weight.
The 7 tesla (T) MRI scanner MAGNETOM Terra, made by Siemens Healthineers, operates with a very strong 7T magnet, whereas most MRI scanners operate with 1.5T or 3T magnets. The higher magnetic field results in much more detailed, higher quality images which can detect the more subtle changes diseases cause in the body.
The pioneering equipment will be hosted by the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences, King’s College London, and will provide a facility for researchers from King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, Imperial College London and University College London, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and other leading research institutions in the capital to work together.
Research will focus on neurological, heart and musculoskeletal conditions, as well as cancer and diseases affecting babies and children. The facility will make use of the vast range of services offered at St Thomas’ Hospital to care for people during all stages of life, to ensure that patients can be scanned safely and can have access to wards, operating theatres and other investigations if needed.
The research facility will have its own dedicated entrance and waiting area, a large space for the scanner and a control room, a lab, an anaesthetic and recovery room which can also be used as a two-bed ward with a nurses station, and substantial office space. Using the scanner requires the technical expertise of highly-trained doctors, biologists, physicists, engineers and computer scientists.
Joseph Hajnal, Professor of Imaging Science at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at King’s College London and Lead Researcher said: