Healthcare Transformation > Mayo Clinic’s 7-Tesla MRI Scanner Is Setting a New Standard for Patient Care 

Mayo Clinic’s 7-Tesla MRI Scanner Is Setting a New Standard for Patient Care 

By Karen Scherting Photography by Thomas R. Boggan

Mayo Clinic in Arizona has installed a new Siemens 7-Tesla (7T) MRI scanner, joining only a few U.S. institutions offering advanced diagnostic imaging with the strongest magnetic field available for clinical use.  

This installation marks one of the final projects of Arizona. Bold. Forward. and represents the future of patient care at Mayo Clinic.  

One of the largest capital expansion projects in Mayo Clinic history, Arizona. Bold. Forward. doubled the size of the Phoenix campus in just four years, significantly increasing its capacity to meet the needs of patients. 

The 7T MRI is the first and only MRI of this magnetic field strength used for patient care in Arizona. With its addition, all three Mayo Clinic campuses now have the cutting-edge technology. Mayo Clinic in Minnesota became the first center in North America to use clinical 7T MRI in late 2017, and a second 7T scanner was installed at Mayo Clinic in Florida in 2021.  

Advanced Diagnostic Applications 

The 7T MRI scanner provides more than twice the magnetic field strength of a conventional 3-Tesla (3T) scanner to deliver ultrafine image resolution of the head and extremities.  

MRI — magnetic resonance imaging — scanners use magnetic fields, measured in teslas, and radio waves to create detailed images of organs and tissues in the body. The magnetic field strength, in part, determines the amount of anatomical detail that can be obtained in the images. 

The 7T MRI noninvasively reaches deep into the body, allowing physicians to see anatomical details that were previously invisible, leading to more accurate diagnoses and targeted treatment plans.  

7 Tesla MRI Scanner at Mayo Clinic
Photography by Peter J. Pallagi

For example, the 7T MRI can reveal subtle brain lesions caused by trauma or multiple sclerosis that might be missed by conventional MRI scans. It can also provide more detailed images of knee cartilage and other tissues, improving noninvasive diagnoses. 

As an early adopter of this technology, Mayo Clinic pioneered the development of advanced clinical imaging protocols, exploiting the high magnetic field strength to push the boundaries of our ability to detect subtle pathologies. Mayo Clinic was also central to efforts to develop safety procedures for this technology

Mayo Clinic is one of the few centers that routinely uses 7T MRI to assess individuals with epilepsy. This advanced imaging technology can identify epileptogenic lesions that 3T MRI often misses, increasing the chances of the patient achieving seizure freedom.  

Enhancing Neurological Research 

Beyond its immediate clinical applications, the 7T MRI allows Mayo Clinic neuroradiologists to develop tools to assess patients with unprecedented accuracy. 

The 7T MRI is instrumental in research efforts aimed at understanding and treating conditions like transient global amnesia (TGA) and leukoencephalopathy. 

Researchers used 7T MRI to identify a persistent lesion in the hippocampus of a patient with TGA eight months post-episode. This finding suggests TGA may cause more enduring brain changes than previously believed.  

7T MRI has also been used to detect specific brain calcifications in a young woman with a family history of colony-stimulating factor-1 receptor (CSF1R)-related leukoencephalopathy. These abnormalities, missed by regular neurological exams and 3T MRI, led to better treatment decisions and referral to a clinical trial. 

Mayo Clinic has also developed 7T MRI protocols for these conditions: 

  • A novel imaging protocol and stereotactic head frame localizer was developed to perform treatment planning for deep brain stimulation (DBS) electrode placement
  • A novel protocol allows for imaging neuromelanin in the brain, aiding in Parkinson's disease detection by identifying reduced neuromelanin levels and elevated iron content. 
  • High-resolution 7T MRI can detect specific changes in the motor cortex, facilitating earlier diagnosis and treatment intervention for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

Use of the 7T MRI scanner underscores Mayo Clinic's unwavering commitment to providing patients with the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available. This technology empowers physicians to deliver exceptional care and paves the way for groundbreaking discoveries that will shape the future of medicine. 

Healthcare Transformation
Capital Expansion, Healthcare Transformation
Capital Expansion