Extending accessibility to low-cost medical imaging in Europe
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and large magnetic fields to help identify conditions ranging from damaged ligaments to cancer. Around 40 million MRI scans are performed each year in the EU, but the size and cost of scanners means that not all European citizens have equal access to this form of medical diagnosis.
‘Low-field MRI’ is a portable form of the standard MRI scanner, opening opportunities to provide treatment at a patient’s locality. However, these machines currently lack metrological traceability on the results they give. These instruments also lack the accredited documentation blueprints of hardware and software required by the EU’s Medical Device Regulation (EU)2017/745 (MDR).
This project will design, develop, and fully characterise a mobile, low-cost (<50 k€), low-field MRI system. For the first time, multiple low-field low-cost open-source MR scanners will be built at different sites and evaluated.
All information to build, operate and maintain these scanners will be made publicly available in open-source documentation. An open-source platform will also be provided containing model-based image reconstruction approaches optimised for low-field MRI.
The open-source information will fulfil the requirements of the EU medical device regulation. This will result in an easier approval route for similar low-field MR systems developed by companies, resulting in cost savings for public healthcare systems.
Project outputs will provide information on the safety-related aspects of low-field MRI and improve current standards in this area – making it easier for accreditation of this type of transportable scanner and hastening the acceptance of this form of diagnostic imaging.