COVID-19 Update on MRIRC operations (March 18, 2020)

In light of the rapidly changing procedures for handling risk from COVID-19, including the recent memo from the OCR regarding clinical research (Memo From OCR), and the Provost’s office regarding research (Memo From Provost) we have developed a plan for significantly reduced MRIRC operations over the next several weeks.

If your study falls under the category of clinical research, please review your research protocols to decide which of the 3 categories your studies fall into, as outlined by communication from the OCR. A copy of the letter from OCR can be read following link Memo From OCR. For all those that fall into category 1, we will continue to provide MRI scanning services as currently scheduled. For those that fall into category 2, we ask that the PIs and their research teams determine if these scans are necessary or if they can be rescheduled to a later date. We would advise rescheduling any scans of volunteers (non-patients) to a later date. Any scans for category 3 studies will be paused until further noticed. The guidance from the Provost’s office (Memo From Provost) is that “for human subjects research involving person-to-person contact that does not directly benefit the subject, those activities should be suspended immediately”.

Studies that do not fall under the category of clinical research, generally do not benefit the subjects directly. These scans should be postponed, as per guidance from the Provost’s office. Please review your research protocol with this in mind.

For those scans that will proceed, we ask that you reconfirm with your research subjects that they will be coming in as scheduled. If any subject has a fever, cough or respiratory symptoms, they should not to come in. We will be happy to reschedule their scan to a later date. Cancellation fees will not apply during this period. All research subjects who are brought to the MRIRC for a scan should undergo hospital-based screening in place for patients at the point of check-in. If your subjects are not scheduled in EPIC and are brought straight to the MRIRC without checking in, they will undergo the same screening procedures at the MRIRC.

There has been no guidance yet from the administration on animal experiments. However, Dr. Langan has indicated that the ARC is working on guidelines. For now – please minimize the number of people working together in the scan rooms.

At the MRIRC, we already have SOPs in place for regular cleaning and sanitization of the scanning areas and equipment. In addition to this, we will be cleaning and sanitizing the patient waiting areas and high traffic areas at least daily, depending on the patient volume. We will have hand sanitizer available for patients’ use before and after the scans. Please let us know if you have concerns about the cleaning procedures.

Our primary concern is the safety of our patients, staff and users. The situation regarding COVID-19 is changing rapidly, and practices in place today may change as the disease progresses and the CDC, state and local entities provide additional guidance. We will update you with any changes as this occurs.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns about this plan.

The newly founded University of Chicago MRI Research Center houses Magnetic Resonance Scanners and experienced support staff. The MRIRC includes:

  • A recently upgraded Philips Achieva 3.0T scanner with dStream technology that is equipped for both neuro- and body-imaging. The scanner has the necessary equipment for functional MRI (fMRI) as well as devices for presenting visual and auditory stimuli during fMRI scans and for recording behavioral responses. This scanner will soon be equipped with MRI-guided high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU).Specialized coils for body imaging (breast, prostate) are available.
  • A Philips 1.5 T scanner used primarily for clinical trials. This scanner is also equipped with MRI-guided HIFU. We plan to replace this scanner in late fall with a Philips Ingenia 3.0T scanner with dStream technology, also equipped with MRI-guided HIFU.
  • A 9.4 T, narrow bore scanner. This scanner is used for small animal studies and is part of the University’s Integrated Small Animal Imaging Research Resource.

Support staff at the MRIRC includes:

  • three MRI Physicists, of which one is a Certified Medical Physicist with Special Competency in MRI Physics (ABMP)
  • two Clinical Research Coordinators
  • two MR Technologists dedicated to research MRI practice

Physicists at the MRIRC are developing innovative MRI methods and supporting users of the MRIRC Core facility through protocol design and optimization, performing QA studies, and data processing. Research at the MRIRC includes development of new fMRI methods, MRI methods for characterizing stroke, breast and prostate cancer imaging, use of quantitative MRI in clinical trials, including improvements in quantitative MRI methods, and development of new cardiac imaging methods. Support from veterinary technologists with specialized imaging experience is available from the Integrated Small Animal Imaging Research Resource .

The new Philips 3T MRI scanner with dStream architecture has been installed and is open for users after June 1st, 2015. The primary components of this upgrade are:

  • A new split (TX) transmitter with slice-by-slice optimization of excitation pulses to significantly improve uniformity of excitation
  • Addition of Philips ‘D-stream’ technology based on integration of signal-to-noise ratio
  • Improved detectors including a 32 channel head coil, and specialized coils for body imaging including dedicated breast and prostate coils
  • Integrated MRI-guided HIFU
  • Improved monitoring hardware and software for fMRI experiments
  • Improved pulse sequences and data analysis software for fMRI, susceptibility-weighted imaging, and arterial spin labeling, and fat-water imaging.

Regular hours:
Monday - Friday: 8:00 a.m.—7:00 p.m.
Every other Saturday (two weeks' notice required): 9:00 a.m.—2:00 p.m.
Please check our online scheduler for the available time/days.
MR safety classes are scheduled on the third Friday of each month, 3:00 p.m.—4:30 p.m. in MRIRC Q-300 conference room and are mandatory for 3T users who will access 3T MR scanner suite at AMB Q300. To register for MRI safety training, please email technical director Xiaodong Guo.