SIGNA MRT Serial# 000 Obituary

February 21, 2007
Signa-MRT

This system really had a most remarkable history. The first human procedure on April 15 1994, a biopsy of a pelvic tumor was the start of many clinical firsts. We are deeply saddened to convey that MRT Serial# 000 has expired. About 10 days before there had been an interruption of the chilled water supply (the nemesis of the system), the cold heads failed and shortly after, the magnet quenched. After a round of troubleshooting, praying and attempted clairvoyance it was determined that there had been a failure somewhere in the windings inside the cryostat, and that after long series of miraculous resurrections by the CR&D team, this time it is not repairable.

This system really had a most remarkable history, and everyone connected to this project has their own stories to tell. From the first technology concepts of 'FRED' and 'high temperature superconductors', the hula-hoop magnet, the idea of interactive scan plane control and real time display were all unbelievable achievements to anyone working outside the team. A 'Moon shot' one skeptic called it. The partnership between GE and the Brigham team added the necessary clinical dimension to be sure we were truly Bringing Good Things to Life. The development of the working system at GE Global Research in the fall of 1993 - just getting the first one built and working was enough excitement for a lifetime. The introduction at RSNA, the concept of 'OPM', FDA approval and the CIP program were another series of historic firsts for GE that transformed this from a technology into a clinical reality.

The first human procedure on 15 April 1994, a biopsy of a pelvic tumor was the start of many clinical firsts. The development of MR compatible instrumentation and new ways of using intraoperative imaging changed the way radiologists, surgeons and oncologists worked. No one of us would have dared to predict that this would keep chugging along for almost 13 years.

Below is a brief summary of some of the larger series of cases that made up the more than 3000 procedures done on this magnet.

Neurosurgery Total 1439
Craniotomies 1026
Brain biopsies 336
Pituitary cases 37
Cyst drainage 16
Brain laser cases 24
Brachytherapy Total 448
Cryotherapy Total 264


Other series included breast cancer, upright spinal imaging and everyone's favorite defecography.

All those involved in this MRT feel a deep loss in this passing. It is interesting to note, that now there are more 100 MR interventional systems installed and working around the world, however none have the direct access that MRT provided.

Note: this message is derived from one that Rob Newman sent to the original GE and Brigham teams to announce the demise of this system.

See also: news, 2007