High Resolution Niche MRI of the Wrist

Period of Performance: 08/01/1998 - 01/31/1999


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Conductus, Inc.
969 W. Maude Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
Principal Investigator


Arthritis afflicts some 36 million Americans, with an estimated annual cost to the economy of $64 billion. MRI is ideally suited to evaluate arthritis and is the only modality capable of non-invasive imaging of all components of the joint. A principle obstacle to the acceptance of MRI for these purposes is cost. Niche MRI machines lower the scan cost, but with lower signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). High-temperature superconducting (HTS) coils can increase SNR by as much as a factor of 3.5 for niche MRI wrist images at 0.2 T. This SNR gain can be used to increase image resolution by decreasing the voxel volume by a factor of 3.5. The SNR gain could alternatively be used to decrease the scan time by a factor of 12, and thus further decrease the scan cost. In Phase 1 we propose to design and build HTS MRI coils for a niche MRI system, and demonstrate wrist images. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: We estimate the market for HTS coils for niche MRI machines to be approximately $5 million per year at present, with rapid growth if these coils prove important for major new applications such as arthritis.