Mercury Computer Systems introduces advanced digital MRI receiver with breakthrough noise-reduction technology

Chelmsford 25 September 2006Mercury Computer Systems Inc. has launched Visage MR, its revolutionary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) receiver product that has been shown in clinical trials to significantly improve image quality and reduce scan times - the two primary drivers of MR imaging. Visage MR is a high-bandwidth, 16-bit analogue-to-digital receiver board with advanced digital filtering and MRI-specific noise-reduction technology that significantly improves signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) in MR images, compared to existing offerings in the marketplace. Visage MR has four times the resolution of current-generation MRI receivers, coupled with an extremely high sampling rate.


This combination extends dynamic range through decimation to 24-bits of resolution, preserving more of the MRI signal to allow the visualization of finer image detail, while also accelerating fast MRI imaging sequences.

This single-board, multi-channel receiver can be combined with multiple boards to operate in parallel, scaling acquisition channel capability to significantly reduce scan times in anatomical imaging - especially in 3D applications. ExactPhase innovative digital detection technology enables parallel acquisition with a zero-phase distortion, thereby reducing ghosting and ringing artifacts in MR images. Mercury is marketing Visage MR to research institutions and medical OEMs for insertion into new MRI system platforms and for upgrades to installed base machines.

In clinical trials conducted at institutions worldwide over the last several months, Mercury has demonstrated significantly reduced image noise and increased contrast in MRI images across a range of field strengths (0.2T, 1.5T and 3.0T) with a variety of coils (head, body, extremity) and applications - increasing image quality in all cases. Visage MR has also been shown to shorten scan times during clinical imaging acquisitions. A scan that normally takes 25 minutes, for example, can be completed in 10 minutes with a 3D scan using Visage MR, which can significantly increase patient throughput and potentially lower the cost of MRI procedures.

"We have shown Visage MR can make low-field MRI images look like those of a mid-field MRI and mid-field MRI images look as good as high field", stated Marcelo Lima, Vice President of Commercial Imaging and Visualization at Mercury Computer Systems Inc. "It's like you are getting extra field strength with Visage MR, without the cost of expensive magnets."

Visage MR is a result of Mercury's 2005 acquisition of Echotek Corporation, an expert in embedded mixed-signal data acquisition products. Mercury combined Echotek's unique expertise in extracting clear signals from electronic clutter with MR-specific signal processing and noise-reduction technology to create the Visage MR product.

"Echotek Series products deliver the finest signal integrity, measured by signal-to-noise ratio and spur-free dynamic range (SFDR) in the industry", stated Gary J. Turchetta, General Manager of the Echotek Product Group at Mercury. "We are delighted to see this capability applied to MR imaging with the Visage MR offering."

Visage MR features a class-leading 130 MHz sampling rate that in addition to dramatically increasing dynamic range, also provides a high level of over-sampling capability to minimize quantization noise and maintain signal integrity. The direct sampling rate removes the need for an OEM's intermediate frequency circuitry as well as special filtering modules, since the digital filtering and decimation occur automatically in the Visage MR receiver. This elimination of intermediate filtering steps further increases signal quality.

Visage MR consists of a multi-channel digital MRI receiver board with full dynamic range, enhanced noise reduction and filtering software in a PCI form factor. Priced at US$15.000, Visage MR is now available for shipment.

Mercury Computer Systems Inc. is a supplier of high-performance embedded, real-time digital signal and image processing computer systems. Mercury's products play a critical role in a wide range of applications, transforming sensor data to information for analysis and interpretation. In military reconnaissance and surveillance platforms, the Company's systems process real-time radar, sonar, and signals intelligence data. Mercury's systems are also used in state-of-the-art medical diagnostic imaging devices including MRI, PET, and digital X-ray, and in semiconductor imaging applications including photomask generation and wafer inspection.

Mercury provides advanced 3D image processing and visualization software and optimized systems to diverse end markets including life sciences, geosciences, and simulation. The company also provides radio frequency (RF) products for enhanced communications capabilities in military and commercial applications. Based in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Mercury serves customers in North America, Europe and Asia through its direct sales force and a network of subsidiaries and distributors. More company news is available in the VMW August 2006 article Mercury Computer Systems signs agreements with new PACS vendors and suppports malaria research with Pfizer.

Leslie Versweyveld

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