The core elements of the Scannexus facility are three Ultra-High-Field whole-body MRI scanners, supplied by Siemens; a 3T Magnetom Prisma, a 7T Magnetom and a 9.4T Magnetom.
Ultra-High-Field imaging provides new levels of insights into human anatomy and function, opening up a range of possibilities with implications for medical diagnosis and treatment.
The potential to improve spatial resolution to a range of 100-200µm will enable visualisation of (for example) different layers of the cerebral cortex - with impact on the diagnosis of diseases such as early dementia, epilepsy and small-vessel stroke, as well as understanding of vascularisation, myelin pathology and other phenomena. Furthermore, microbleeds can be identified, oxygen saturation quantified and vasculature mapped via techniques such as Susceptibility Weighted Imaging.
The enhanced signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) enables higher resolution (sub-millimetre) functional imaging. This leads to the possibility of columnar-level imaging; providing insights about the ‘neuronal code’ within specific brain regions. In addition, the increased BOLD contrast optimises the relative impact of physiological noise; aiding our ability to probe the mechanisms associated with behaviour, learning and brain development.
A key advantage of moving to ultra-high field is the improvements seen in (functional) spectroscopy - brought about by the higher sensitivity and specificity (spectral dispersion). As a result, it is possible to reliably identify many metabolites that are invisible with standard MRI. This opens up many opportunities for oncology, psychopharmacology and other disciplines.