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MRI scan information for health professionals

MRI scanner process staff and patient

Everything you need to know about our world-leading MRI service at Mount Vernon.

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MRI Scanning overview

MRI scanning has been operational at Paul Strickland Scanner Centre since 1986. Our scanners have always been “best in class” machines with a regular replacement programme. For example:

  • Our two Siemens Magnetom Sola 1.5 T MRI scanners, installed in 2022, are regarded as some of the best machines ever produced by Siemens Healthineers. A third scanner operating at 1.5T (Siemens Magnetom Aera RT), installed in July 2018, enables us to work very closely with Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in radiotherapy planning and research. All our scanners feature wide bores, making them particularly comfortable for larger patients and/or those who are claustrophobic.

  • Our special relationship with Siemens Healthineers also allows us to stay ahead in scanner capabilities. So we can (and do) implement new features into clinical studies, well ahead of their appearance in the marketplace. For example multiparametric MRI, which is only now appearing in the guidelines for prostate cancer diagnosis, has been in use at PSSC since the early years of the 21st Century.

  • Whole-body MRI scanning is another example of our leadership in promoting cancer care. We have examined the largest number of cases in the world at a single site, which has allowed us to define its role in cancer care, via scientific publications and contributions to cancer care guidelines.

Why choose us?

Our MRI scanners are state of the art and we endeavour to lead clinical oncologic imaging. Our radiography staff are highly trained with many years of MRI expertise. Our MRI radiologists are highly skilled and nationally known, with our lead radiologist being an international thought leader in prostate MRI and whole body scans. Our quality programmes ensure that our scanners and staff are the best they can be.

The team

The scanning team consists of senior personnel who are specifically-trained in MRI, including functional imaging and spectroscopy. These skills are rarely found in MRI radiographers working outside teaching hospitals. Our radiographers know how to conduct perfusion, diffusion, brain activation studies and spectroscopy examinations, which are a matter of routine at Paul Strickland Scanner Centre.

There is a very strong safety culture amongst MRI personnel because of the field strength of our scanners mentioned above. This safety culture applies not only to patient matters but also to staff. We constantly monitor and use MRI safety alerts, making sure that our procedures are fully compliant with safety recommendations. Our MR Safety Expert is an MRI physicist with over 20 years’ experience.

We also have radiographer and physicist support to support functional imaging research studies, which enables us to participate both internally and externally funded research programmes. Such research programmes require strict quality control and quality assurance programmes which are already in place.

Our advanced radiographers are sought after for their knowledge and skills by Siemens Healthineers. This allows us to release them for technologist teaching duties, and for trying out the next generation of MRI machines in order to improve their usability. This allows us to stay ahead with upcoming hardware and operating software developments.

The team is led by Prof Anwar Padhani, our lead consultant for MRI, as well as Ms Marie Fennessy (our superintendent for MRI) and her deputy, Mr Will Mcguire.

Specialty interests

All our consultants are experts in cancer imaging but they have specialty interests where they have additional roles working within multidisciplinary teams within the cancer centre and in surrounding hospitals. Several also have local/national/international leadership roles. Prof Padhani specialises in whole-body MRI scanning, prostate cancer and gynaecology.

Our MRI Scanners

With two advanced generation scanners, and another one to follow shortly, together with appropriate supporting hardware and software, there is very little that we can’t do. We perform the full range of studies, including advanced functional imaging studies. However we do pride ourselves on being at the cutting edge for oncology studies.

We are internationally known for multiparametric prostate MRI and whole body MRI. Being the most experienced in whole body MRI globally means that our protocols are streamlined, compliant with international standards (which we help to formulate) and appropriately used. This has attracted a great deal of attention nationally and internationally, with doctors and patients coming to Paul Strickland Scanner Centre. For example, we have had teams visiting from Scotland, Denmark, USA and Brazil to learn about how we do whole body MRI scanning.

Thanks to a new, wider bore scanners installed in July 2018 (Siemens Magnetom AERA RT) and 2022 (Siemens Magnetom Sola), we have the ability to examine very large patients and those with severe claustrophobia.

More detail about our scanners:

Siemens Magnetom Sola (1.5T)
Siemens Magnetom Aera RT (1.5T)

Example scan images

Comparing WB-MRI to FDG PET-CT scan in small cell lung cancer

62 year old male with small cell lung cancer. Frontal projection of a whole body diffusion image and glucose PET done on consecutive days (first and second columns respectively). Grossly there is good concordance of high uptake on FDG-PET with high signal intensity on b900 MIP images. Fused PET-CT (third column) and fused b900-T2W (4th column) of the lower chest and liver. Note normal FDG uptake in the heart not seen on the fused b900 images (arrow). Liver metastases are more clearly outlined on the fused b900-T2W images (arrow). Bone deposits are also more clearly seen on fused b900-T2W images (slanting arrow).

Comparing WB-MRI to FDG PET-CT scan in small cell lung cancer

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Comparing WB-MRI to Choline PET-CT scan in prostate cancer

82 year old man treated for prostate cancer representing with biochemical recurrence 4 years after pelvic radiotherapy. The b900 image is a diffusion sequence which shows an area of hypercellularity in the right anterior rib which is barely perceptible on the standard of care choline PET-CT. This patient cyberknife radiotherapy for this lesion.

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Follow-up of plasmacytoma

The baseline and serial whole body MRI follow-up of plasmacytoma is a NICE approved indication. On examination 1, a right shoulder abnormality is seen which disappears on the 2nd examination after radiotherapy (RT). By the 3rd examination multiple new lesions are seen (red arrows) indicating transformation to symptomatic myeloma and the need to start anticancer therapy.

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Multiparametric prostate cancer examination before starting active surveillance

Multiparametric prostate cancer examinations before active surveillance is a NICE approved indications. This 64 year old appeared to be well suited for active surveillance for low risk disease but we found a 1 cm tumour anteriorly in the gland (arrow) which was characterised as an aggressive lesion making the patient unsuited for active surveillance. He was treated with definitive radiotherapy using our cyberknife facilities.

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Better performance of MRI compared to CT for bone disease detection in metastatic breast cancer

Axial CT (A) and diffusion weight MRI scan (B) show a metastatic lesion in the body of L1 in a patient with breast cancer not evident on CT. In addition, the b900 signal intensity image (B) identifies another smaller lesion in the right transverse process of L1 (green arrow).

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Better performance of MRI compared to CT for liver disease detection in metastatic breast cancer

Axial CT (A) and diffusion weight MRI scan (B) show a metastatic lesion segment 5/6 of the liver not evident on CT.

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