Here it is, the 7- Tesla MRI machine that I got to take for a ride at UCSF’s Surbeck Advanced Imaging Facility today. The machine’s magnetic field is so strong that photo opps had to be limited to snaps from the hallway, through the open door with a zoom lens while I ‘suited up.’
From the patient’s view, the machine, which is strictly a research rig at the moment, requiring a small army of technicians and programmers to run, is like flying an experimental fighter vs a 777.
Few creature comforts are included: the head antenna is basically a casque with no slots for air or light, and the utilitarian gurney is not nearly as comfortable as the automated ones on the lower-strength production models, and its position makes it both hard to get up on (for hemiplegic moi), but also drags shoulders, hips and other exterior features along the machine’s much deeper bore. There’s no interior lighting or thoughtfully-angled mirrors that let the patient look out from inside. A ventilation fan was either not working or hadn’t been switched on. – after 30 minutes or so it got stuffy.
I realized I was positioned much more deeply into this machine than the 1.5 or 3-Tesla versions, but after the head mask was clamped down, I couldn’t see anything, anyway, so no big deal.
The other obvious difference was that while MRI machines are famously loud, this thing is front-row-of-rock-concert loud. I jumped several times when particularly-ear-splitting sequences started .We made our 45-minute (it turned out) ‘journey’ and now await the results…