CNI upgrade planning

July 2nd, 2019
July 2nd, 2019

Planning for an MRI scanner upgrade at the CNI

The MRI scanner we have (GE DVMR 750) is about 8 years old. There have been advances over the years that we incorporated through compute infrastructure and software. It is now time for us to consider the opportunity for a hardware upgrade.

In anticipation of the hardware upgrade, we participated in GE’s ‘Evergreen’ program. This is a technology non-obsolescence agreement.  The path we were on was to upgrade to the GE Premier 3.0T, a system that you can see in Lucas as 3T2.  That system has some computational upgrades, more receiver channels, and a wider bore.

A second option has emerged that the CNI staff believes is preferable.   GE is marketing this upgrade as the DVMR 750 Connectome plus Edition*.  The Connectome plus includes most of the computational elements of the Premier.   In addition the upgrade replaces the gradient coils and drivers with a new system that has better performance in two ways. The coils generate a higher gradient (50 mT/m for the DVMR 750 and 100 mT/m for the Connectome plus), and the coils are more stable with respect to heating.

The CNI team thinks that the Connectome plus will be a better technology choice for our community. We also believe that the Connectome plus upgrade will help PIs justify the equipment infrastructure when they write grants, enabling them to correctly claim that the GE equipment is competitive with the best Siemens products.

The same decision is being faced by our colleagues in other departments; it is our understanding that other groups also are planning to install Connectome plus systems.

Hardware down time planning

We are planning to be closed for data acquisition from January 6, 2020 to the end of February, about six months hence.  Stanford’s financial rules and the contract with GE leaves us with very little flexibility in when the upgrade can take place.  We will try hard to get the system online by February 21, 2020 for protocol testing.  Please remember that this is a major install and there is always some uncertainty about timing.

You may remember that this timing differs from what we anticipated during our community meeting last fall.  At that time we hoped to do the upgrade during the winter closure.  That turns out to be impossible because, well, people want to visit with their families.  We fully understand and hope you do, too.

During the next six months we will help labs plan for the down time and transition to the new system. We will send additional messages that describe how we will collaborate with the Lucas Center to make it possible for some studies to be carried out there; and, we  will collaborate with GE to quantify the system performance to help understand how to best extend longitudinal studies.

* Some people refer to this system as the Ultra High Performance (UHP) system



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