Toshiba MRI scanner

Internal Toshiba MRI scannerA bespoke Toshiba air conditioning system is being used to cool a state-of-the-art transportable MRI scanner, the first of its kind to be developed by Toshiba Medical Systems.

The transportable facility enables high resolution scans of individual limbs or the whole body to be carried out on location throughout the UK. Vital cooling for the diagnostic unit has been provided by Just Air Conditioning Ltd, working with Toshiba distributor AMP.

The supplier provided a modified vertically-ducted VRF unit, twinned with a split system condensing unit, to deliver the cooling required for the facility’s examination room.

Wayne Raven, who headed up the project for Just Air Conditioning, said: “Due to the powerful magnetic fields generated in the examination area, it is not possible to site air conditioning within the room itself. We therefore designed a special ducted system, which had to pass through a radio-frequency cage, to keep the specialist equipment cool and ensure patients and staff remain comfortable at all times.”

At the heart of the scanner is a 5.5tonne electromagnet cooled by liquid helium, linked to sophisticated computer analysis equipment to give very high resolution scans of limbs or a patient’s whole body.

Space was a major design consideration in the project, as MRI scanners are normally located in their own suites within hospitals.

“Designing a transportable MRI facility involves very careful planning to ensure all the equipment, essential cooling and facilities for staff and patients are accommodated,” explained Wayne Raven.

“We collaborated on the design with WH Bence Coachworks, which built the transportable unit, using 3-D modelling design software to ensure every millimetre of space was used to best advantage.”

In addition to the ducted cooling unit, two further split air conditioning systems were required – one for the control room and another, ceiling-suspended, in the facility’s technical room. Each is equipped with its own condensing unit, sited on the front-bulkhead of the transportable MRI unit.

Patient comfort is a high priority, and as well being air conditioned the examination room is equipped with the latest mood lighting systems, which can be programmed to create a range of different ambient effects and atmospheres.

Just Air Conditioning Ltd is now working with WH Bence on the air conditioning for ten mammogram scanners, for deployment in hospitals in Ireland and the south of England. They will also be cooled using Toshiba air conditioning systems.