Imaging developer installs its first zero-helium 1.5T MRI machine in the US

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Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging is exhibiting the more sustainable version of its technology for small animal diagnostics at ACVIM Forum

The zero-helium 1.5T MRI machine for dogs and cats is designed to be more sustainable that earlier generations of the Hallmarq technology. (Photo courtesy of Hallmarq)

The zero-helium 1.5T MRI machine for dogs and cats is designed to be more sustainable that earlier generations of the Hallmarq technology. (Photo courtesy of Hallmarq)

Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging, a developer of animal diagnostic imaging, recently announced the installation of its first zero-helium small animal 1.5T MRI machine in the United States, which is now in use at the Wisconsin Neurology and Surgical Center in Mequon.1 The company’s third-generation zero-helium 1.5T MRI machine, the newly installed machine builds on Hallmarq’s second-generation system—and Hawaii’s first 1.5T veterinary specific MRI—through its departure from reliance on helium.

Rather than using liquid helium to cool its MRI coils, the third-generation machine employs a different method to produce a superconducting magnet: it utilizes vacuum technology and a cooling system based on conduction.2 The move away from helium marks a new step towards a sustainability effort, as helium is a finite source, and its extraction process is energy-intensive and can lead to the release of greenhouse gases.3

“Hallmarq’s zero-helium small animal 1.5T MRI system increases access to diagnostic care for small animal patients, while lessening the financial, environmental and supply chain risks associated with traditional helium-based MRI systems,” Steve Roberts, PhD, and chief technology officer of Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging, said in a news release.2

“Because [the machine] is zero-helium, we’ve reduced the complexities of installation–there is no requirement for an RF shielded room, a quench pipe, conventional external chiller or oxygen monitoring within the scanning and operator rooms. This not only simplifies the process of adding 1.5T MRI to a diagnostics suite but saves both time and money,” Fiona Farmer, BVSc, MRCVS, level 3 FEI official veterinarian, and senior account manager at Companion Consultancy, a veterinary-focused communications firm based in the United Kingdom, told dvm360. Additionally, Hallmarq's remote operations service (ROS) offers veterinary clinics access to their licensed MRI veterinary technicians to help manage the system effectively, which can be helpful for clinics facing staffing difficulties. The company is also offering Imaging as a Service (IaaS), a rental, subscription-based model where monthly payments cover “everything,” according to Hallmarq.1

What conditions can the machine detect?

The machine, which is designed for cats and dogs, contains a V-shaped patient bed that can scan animals ranging in size, such as Chihuahuas to large breeds like bull mastiff, Newfoundland, or long Irish wolfhound. According to Farmer, the machine can screen and diagnose the following:

  1. Spinal cord disease
  2. Brain disease
  3. Skull and surrounding soft tissues
  4. Nasal and orbital disease
  5. Cranial and vertebral anomalies and genetic malformation screening
  6. Stifle disease
  7. Shoulder disease
  8. Thoracic and abdominal disease
  9. Epilepsy screening

The veterinary-focused design of the machine allows for a clear image of the scans. The machine is “specifically designed with vets and pets in mind. Animals and humans do not share the same anatomy so a refurbished human MRI will not deliver the same image quality that the Hallmarq machine can with its veterinary specific coils, protocols, and software,” Farmer said.

Hallmarq is currently exhibiting its zero-helium small animal 1.5T MRI machine at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) Forum 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in booth 1433. “We are looking forward to attending ACVIM…where we will have a machine on our stand, which is the first-time people will be able to see it in person. We welcome everyone to come and see the system and look forward to answering any questions,” Mike Torres, global vice president of customer success at Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging, said in the release.1

 

 References

  1. Hallmarq installs its first zero-helium small animal 1.5T MRI machine in the US. News release. US Vet Press. May 20, 2024. Accessed June 6, 2024. https://www.companionconsultancy.co.uk/2024/05/hallmarq-installs-its-first-zero-helium-small-animal-1-5t-mri-machine-in-the-us/
  2. Hallmarq releases its NEW zero-helium small animal 1.5T MRI machine. Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging Ltd. November 4, 2022. Accessed June 4, 2024. https://hallmarq.net/2022/11/04/hallmarq-releases-their-new-zero-helium-zhm-small-animal-1-5t-mri-machine/
  3. Serra Leal JS, Incer-Valverde J, Morosuk T. Helium: Sources, applications, supply, and demand. Gases. 2023;3(4):181-183. https://doi.org/10.3390/gases3040013

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