The Neuro gets Canada’s first whole-body 7T MRI
February 20, 2019
MONTREAL – Scientists will see the human nervous system in microscopic detail thanks to the installation of Canada’s first 7-Tesla whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital) of McGill University.
The new MRI is capable of taking high-resolution images at pixel dimensions measured in tenths of a millimetre. The unit Tesla refers to the power of the MRI’s magnet. Images from the more common 3-Tesla MRIs become extremely grainy at less than one millimeter, making the 7T considerably more powerful.
The introduction of the whole-body 7T MRI to The Neuro will give researchers an unprecedented window into the effects of neurological disease not just on the brain, but the entire human nervous system.
Some neurological and metabolic disorders affect the muscles and spine as well as the brain, and the new system will provide enhanced opportunities for studying such conditions throughout the body.
Specifically, the 7T will provide:
- More powerful functional MRI, which shows the localization of specific brain functions and how different brain areas work together.
- Detailed microstructural images that are of great value in the study of neurological disease.
- More sensitive characterization of biochemical processes in tissues throughout the body.
Planning for the 7T MRI began in 2008 during the design phase of The Neuro’s new North Wing, which was constructed with an MRI suite capable of bearing the 90-tonne combined weight of the MRI and its shielding. In 2015, The Neuro received an $18.8M grant funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, with Neuro researcher Amir Shmuel as principal investigator, the Quebec Government’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation, and corporate partners such as the MRI manufacturer, Siemens Canada.
Housed at The Neuro’s McConnell Brain Imaging Centre (BIC), the 7T will support multiple provincial, national and international projects and collaborations, including McGill’s “Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives” initiative, which seeks to link neurological health with overall well-being. Data collected by the 7T will be shared with the greater scientific community through The Neuro’s open science policy.
“It is the first of several major acquisitions planned for the BIC over the next few years that will increase its capacity to support neuroscience research with cutting-edge brain imaging facilities” says Julien Doyon, director of the McConnell Brain Imaging Center.”
“We are incredibly excited to add this new tool to our capabilities at The Neuro,” says Rick Hoge, director of the BIC’s MRI Unit. “One of our greatest strengths has been the level of collaboration between imaging physicists, basic neuroscientists, and clinician researchers. The tight integration between The Neuro’s hospital and institute will mean that a wide range of neurological conditions can be studied by world-class researchers using the most advanced MRI methods currently available.”
“7T MRI has very recently been approved for clinical diagnosis in the United States and Canada. Research and development conducted at The Neuro will have an even greater impact thanks to the anticipated clinical adoption of such systems in the future.”
“In 1985 The Neuro became the first institute in Canada to install an MRI, and this latest addition to our brain imaging capabilities maintains our status as a world leader in the field,” says Dr. Guy Rouleau (pictured), director of The Neuro. “Imaging provides the fundamental knowledge of the brain we need to develop better treatments that benefit patients with neurological disease. Congratulations to the team at the BIC for this fantastic achievement.”
About The Neuro
The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital) is a world-leading destination for brain research and advanced patient care. Since its founding in 1934 by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro has grown to be the largest specialized neuroscience research and clinical center in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. The seamless integration of research, patient care, and training of the world’s top minds make The Neuro uniquely positioned to have a significant impact on the understanding and treatment of nervous system disorders. The Montreal Neurological Institute is a McGill University research and teaching institute. The Montreal Neurological Hospital is part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. For more information, please visit www.theneuro.ca.