Originally published February, 1997
The painful back and knee problems that convince patients to seek medical attention are not always obvious on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Fonar Corp. (Melville, NY) believes one reason may be that the forces causing at least some of the pain are reduced when lying down. For that reason, Fonar is developing the first MRI scanner that images patients while standing.
Shown as a work in progress at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America last December, the stand-up MRI is essentially a Quad 7000, the company's 0.35-tesla scanner, flipped on its side. Sandwiched between two electromagnets, the patient would stand on a platform that rises or drops into a position suitable for scanning the target anatomy. "Every magnet has what's called a sweet spot--the area where its imaging uniformity is best and you get the best images," says Kurt Reimann, Fonar's director of marketing. "So depending on what's being imaged, we can raise or lower the patient to get him or her right in the sweet spot of the magnet."
A commercial product is still at least two years away, as engineers are now tweaking the design. The market is expected to be sports medicine clinics and trauma centers.--Greg Freiherr