APRIL 10, 2024

Revolutionizing MRI Efficiency: A Three-Tiered Strategy to Reduce Energy Consumption and Carbon Footprint in Radiology Practices

Among the suite of modern imaging technologies, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) stands out as particularly energy-intensive, commonly used in clinical settings. A network of radiology practices adopted a three-tiered strategy to enhance energy efficiency in their MRI operations.

Published on February 26, 2024, by Doris Pischitz, the report highlights the significant environmental impact of the healthcare sector, which, if considered a nation, would rank as the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Specifically, for independent imaging centers, the energy expenditure on imaging machinery can account for over 19% of total energy costs.

The link between carbon dioxide emissions and energy expenses became more pronounced in 2019 with the installation of a new MRI system at a Munich facility of DIE RADIOLOGIE. The team there initiated productivity improvements to maximize the utility derived from each kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy. The urgency of these measures escalated with the surge in energy costs following the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine.

A critical look at the radiology department’s energy consumption identified MRI as the primary energy consumer, according to Prof. Mike Notohamiprodjo, MD, Managing Director at DIE RADIOLOGIE in Munich, Germany.

Step 1: Introduction of Eco Protocols

Initially, DIE RADIOLOGIE focused on reducing the length of numerous protocols, ensuring this did not affect the quality of patient care. Since longer MRI scans equate to higher energy use, a set of "eco" protocols for frequently used scans was developed to lower energy consumption. This was particularly impactful for musculoskeletal examinations, a significant portion of the network’s diagnostic workload, where scan times were reduced by 30 seconds to a minute per sequence. These adjustments not only saved energy but also allowed for servicing more patients.

Step 2: Adoption of Eco Power Mode

Subsequent efforts involved collaboration with Siemens Healthineers for a fleet analysis, leading to the employment of a software-based Eco Power Mode. This feature lessens the MRI system’s energy use during standby periods or shutdowns. Given that 60-70% of an MRI’s energy is dedicated to magnet refrigeration—a process not needed constantly, especially during off-hours—implementing Eco Power Mode showed a reduction in energy consumption by 30% per scanner annually, equivalent to the energy usage of four two-person households.

Step 3: Leveraging Artificial Intelligence

The final step involved embracing protocol acceleration through artificial intelligence (AI). Utilizing deep learning algorithms, such as those in Deep Resolve Boost, enabled shorter acquisition times and enhanced image quality, effectively balancing the challenging trio of time, signal-to-noise ratio, and resolution. An examination of energy use and protocol efficiency on a MAGNETOM Sola system illustrated further reductions in acquisition times and improvements in image quality over previous optimisations.

Cumulative Impact

The cumulative application of shortened protocols, Eco Power Mode, and AI-assisted imaging facilitated a notable drop in energy consumption across the network's MRI operations. This approach not only elevated image quality but also increased the number of patients that could be examined. With the implementation of these strategies across their 12 MRI systems from Siemens Healthineers, DIE RADIOLOGIE anticipates annual savings of €250,000 and a reduction of 216 tons in CO2 emissions, paralleling the environmental footprint of 17 two-person households.

Source: Three steps to lower energy consumption in MRI

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