World's first MRI/x-ray imaging suite installed at UCSF Medical Center in partnership with Philips M

By Kevin Boyd

The first imaging suite to combine MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) with a cath
lab officially opened today at UCSF Medical Center.  The XMR suite, established
in partnership with Philips Medical Systems, has already improved the treatment
of several patients with vascular disease.

“The most exciting aspect of this suite is that, during the same operation or
procedure, we can use both x-ray angiography, which clearly shows the structure
of blood vessels and allows us to navigate them, and MRI, which is ideal for
displaying soft tissues and revealing the progress of a treatment,” said
Charles Higgins, MD, director of the XMR Center at UCSF Medical Center, and
UCSF professor and vice chair of radiology.

“The suite features a floating patient table that can slide a patient quickly
and smoothly from one imaging system to the other,” said Joop van Vaals, PhD,
director of the interventional MR business at Philips Medical Systems.  “The
two components of the system are installed in adjoining bays, separated by a
lead- and copper-shielded sliding door. This suite combines our world-class MR
and cath-lab technology, and marks a significant milestone in improvement of
stroke treatment and other interventional procedures,” said van Vaals.

Among the first patients to benefit from the new system will be stroke victims
who are treated with so-called clot-busting drugs to restore blood flow in the
brain.  X-ray angiography is commonly used in these procedures to map the blood
vessels and thread a catheter to the location of the blood clot.  “The
challenge,” said Randall Higashida, MD, head of neurointerventional radiology
at UCSF and professor of radiology and neurological surgery, “has been to
deliver enough drug to break up the clot, but not so much that it causes
bleeding.  With the XMR suite doctors will use the x-ray side to bring the
catheter to the stroke site, then shift the patient to the MR side during drug
release to monitor the return of blood to the stroke affected brain region.”

The XMR suite will improve treatment of heart disease as well as stroke.  Using
current technology, blocked or weak arteries are held open to maintain blood
flow, by introducing a tube—called a stent—into the artery, Higashida
explained.  While positioning the stent under x-ray guidance is effective,
doctors are increasingly concerned with the high doses of x-rays that patients
are exposed to during long procedures.  The new system enables stents and
other devices to be placed using a combination of x-ray and MR guidance.
Because no x-rays are used in an MR scanner, the x-ray dose to the patient
can be reduced dramatically.  This is particularly important in treating
children, who have a greater risk of radiation-induced cancer when treated
using conventional methods.

The MRI capability of the suite will be used in a similar way to improve other
catheter-based vascular procedures, such as balloon angioplasty for narrowed
arteries, angiogenesis therapy for blocked coronary arteries, and the delivery
of anti-tumor drugs. 

“The suite will also be used as a research tool to study new applications for
MRI in interventional procedures”, said Tim Roberts, PhD, UCSF’s scientific
director for the new facility, and assistant professor of radiology. “In
addition to using MRI to complement x-ray angiography, we will use the suite to
develop hardware and software required to perform interventional procedures
under MR guidance alone, without the need for x-ray imaging,” he said.

Philips Medical Systems is a leading supplier of diagnostic imaging systems and
related services worldwide including x-ray, magnetic resonance, computed
tomography, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, information management and
consultancy services.With the acquisition of the healthcare business of
AgilentTechnologies, Philips has added cardiovascular ultrasound imaging,
patient monitoring, electrocardiography, resuscitation products and e-care
business to its portfolio.  All products are backed by Philips’ worldwide
network of research and development, and sales and service organizations. 
Philips Medical Systems, represented in more than 100 countries and employing
17,600 people, is part of Royal Philips Electronics, one of the world’s largest
electronics companies.  Additional information on Philips Medical Systems can
be obtained by accessing its homepage at

In July 2001, Royal Philips Electronics and Marconi plc announced that Philips
is to acquire Marconi Medical Systems. When added to the other acquisitions,
the deal will make Philips Medical Systems the world’s second largest
manufacturer of medical diagnostic imaging equipment.