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Niki Lauda at 7-tesla MR tomography unit

(Vienna, 1 June 2010) The 7-Tesla magnetic resonance tomography unit of MedUni Vienna is the only one of thirty devices used worldwide whose findings are already being used today for the direct benefit of patients. Although all units are still in the research phase, the Centre of Excellence for high-field magnetic resonance in Vienna is able to immediately use the research findings of the 7-Tesla MR tomography unit on the devices that are already open to all patients thanks to its cooperation with the university departments and its proximity to the Vienna General Hospital AKH. 

In addition, a professorship for radiology with a focal point on high-field magnetic resonance was set up this year and has been assigned to Univ. Prof. Siegfried Trattnig. He will hold his inaugural lecture on 10 June.

For the general use of 7-Tesla devices, user-friendly body coils are needed which enclose the area of examination on the body. Since 2009 the first coil worldwide for the knee (meniscus, ligament and cartilage diagnostics) has been tested and used in Vienna. The next development expected by Siegfried Trattnig, Professor of High-Field MR Research, is the world's first vertebral column coil for advanced disc diagnostics on patients. "Before we can start with clinical routine with the 7-Tesla device, it is necessary to work together with coil-producing companies to test and develop the adapted examination methods for the individual physical applications." Trattnig sees a major challenge in the coming months in developing coils for the breast and prostate, with important stimulus expected for oncology here.
Enhanced phosphorous spectroscopy which breaks down a metabolite of the cell membrane will facilitate the diagnosis of tumours.

In recent months the team headed by Siegfried Trattnig has also developed techniques such as high-resolution susceptibility-weighted imaging. "With this procedure our colleagues from the Centre for Brain Research are expecting new ways of studying the causes of multiple sclerosis," says Trattnig.

In collaboration with the Department of Neurology (Prof. Eduard Auff, Prof. Roland Beisteiner) and the Department of Neurosurgery (Prof. Engelbert Knosp) progress has been made in the diagnosis of brain tumours by using functional MRT, i.e. brain activation studies that make important brain regions visible such as the visual centre, the motor centre and the language centre without any damage to the patients. Here 7T enables more precise allocation of these areas to tumours and therefore helps improve the planning of surgery.

Vienna was the first place in the world where sodium imaging was used on 7-Tesla to quantify proteoglycans in the cartilage replacement tissue of patients following cartilage replacement therapy. Sodium imaging requires high field strengths and can therefore only be used on 7-Tesla. As sodium correlates directly with the proteoglycans responsible for the cartilage's biomechanical properties, it is possible to draw conclusions about the quality of the transplant in patients with cartilage transplants without harming the patients.

Planned projects include the advanced metabolic examinations of the female breast by using 31-phosphorous spectroscopy and sodium imaging on 7T in order to improve the differential diagnosis of tumours in terms of benign/malignant and optimise the therapeutic follow-up of tumours under chemotherapy. Similar projects are also planned for prostate tumours on 7T, and here it is necessary to develop suitable coils both for the female breast and the prostate. 

7-Tesla units enable up to four times higher resolution than previous 3T MR tomography units. This can reduce the examination time by two thirds. When using contrast agents that are injected intravenously, the dose can be reduced by about a half and the image quality increased at the same dose.

For the field of high-field MR, in the coming years Trattnig is planning to establish the Centre of Excellence as a clinical imaging centre for 7-Tesla recognised worldwide and to expand European and international cooperation ventures in the ultrahigh-field MR sector. The status as a test site for companies that produce coils for 7-Tesla is gaining momentum. This is also connected with the stepped-up relocation of Siemens research and development from the parent company in Erlangen to Vienna.

"Its close proximity to the Vienna General Hospital and interdisciplinary cooperation make our Centre of Excellence a unique institution worldwide," explains Christian Herold, Head of the Department of Radiology and adds: "Whereas the majority of the other around thirty 7-Tesla sites worldwide are mere research facilities, thanks to our cooperation with our university departments we enable quick transfer from top research to the clinical area."

» Antrittsvorlesung Univ. Prof. Dr. Siegfried Trattnig
Do., 10. Juni 2010, 11:00 Uhr
Jugendstilhörsaal der MedUni Wien
1090 Wien, Spitalgasse 23 | Bauteil 88 | Ebene 02