World first 7T MRI scan under general anaesthesia

For the first time, a patient has been scanned under general anaesthesia in the highly powerful MAGNETOM Terra 7T MRI scanner from Siemens Healthineers. This new anaesthetic procedure will provide access to the 7T MRI scanner to patients who are unable to stay still in the scanner, such as young children. It could particularly help children with epilepsy, tumours and movement disorders which cause muscle spasms (dystonia) and also help drive innovative research projects.

The world first was completed in King’s College London’s Advanced MRI Centre, located St Thomas’ Hospital, London, and part of the Guy’s & St Thomas’ NIHR Imaging Clinical Research Facility. It provides a facility for researchers from leading research institutions in the capital to work together.

Some neurological conditions such as complex epilepsy and childhood epilepsy don’t show up well on some MRI machines. However, using the stronger magnetic field of the Terra system can allow more detailed pictures to be taken, leading to better visualisation of subtle brain abnormalities. This can make it possible for patients to receive targeted treatment which greatly reduces symptoms.

The scanned patient suffers from epilepsy and had no lesions identified on their 3T MRI scan and different drugs did not stop their seizures. The scan in the 7T went smoothly and the patient could go home on the same day.

The success of the world-first scan means the clinical team will be able to accept clinical referrals for patients requiring general anaesthetic, and research studies of vulnerable patients who might require anaesthetic intervention, can be supported.

One research study investigating MRI planning before insertion of deep brain stimulators (DBS) is now ready to start. Preparatory works over two years included a testing programme developed with industry partners to determine the safe conditions of usage for anaesthetic and physiological monitoring equipment at 7T.

The scan was facilitated through a collaboration between the King’s Imaging team, the anaesthetic department from Evelina London Children’s Hospital together with colleagues across Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Philips Healthcare – MR patient monitoring and Dräger – MR anaesthesia workstation. The team has also been awarded a GSTT ‘Learning from Excellence’ Award for the teamwork that allowed the first scan.

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