Two years ago, rather surprisingly to us, the most common question that our employees received when promoting Canon’s technology globally to customers was: “Does Canon make MRI?”. Following the sale of Toshiba’s medical division to Canon in 2016, the company name was changed to ‘Canon Medical Systems’ in 2018. The challenge ahead for us then was in addressing the issue that the name ‘Canon MRI’ did not immediately spring to mind for many people in the MRI community. Now in our fourth year as Canon Medical, we feel that the people who knew Toshiba as an important contributor to MR imaging, now realise that Canon has ‘taken the ball’ and is running quickly into the future with it.
Making our mark in the MRI community with AI
Firstly, we would like to express our deepest appreciation to healthcare professionals and all those who continue to work on the frontline during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 situation has altered the focus of MR requirements to contributing efficiently to hospital income while providing a safe and sterile system with integrated and streamlined workflow. In relation to these changes to the healthcare landscape, we are convinced that AI’s impact in improving image quality and workflow can contribute to meeting these requirements Over the past 3 years, Canon has established an industry-leading position in Artificial Intelligence (AI), and not only boast the world's first deep learning technology for MRI, but also utilisation of AI across our entire medical imaging portfolio. And we know that the benefits of AI in diagnostic imaging are only just beginning to manifest. We are now utilising the knowledge we have gained from our clinical partners to continually improve existing applications and develop new ones that can help our customers image more intelligently and efficiently.
The world of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the most challenging in terms of technicality and determining appropriate investment in the right technologies. Over many years of our participation in the medical imaging field, Canon Medical Systems has steadily increased its focus on both, with a recognition that MRI is a modality with tremendous potential to impact medical diagnosis. Recently, we have sharpened our view on to what we call the three C’s; representing ‘confidence’ in our systems and the clinical results that they produce, ‘comfort’ that helps us focus on patients and the feeling we want them to have when being scanned by a Canon MRI system, and ‘cost-effectiveness’, meaning the economic value that our systems bring to facilities from installation through to operation.
So how are we achieving this? The simple answer is, with what we call ‘intelligent MRI’, which not only encompasses the exciting new frontiers of AI, but also our relentless pursuit of smarter ways to optimise every aspect of the MRI experience. We believe that intelligent MRI can deliver three concrete outputs for the MRI suite. The first of these is productivity, because we recognise that healthcare needs to deliver bottom-line performance – increasingly so in meeting the current challenges imposed on healthcare teams by the COVID-19 pandemic. Without economic benefits for healthcare facilities, we do not have the chance to deliver a second output: safe, comfortable and reliable imaging for the patients. Patients deserve the most secure environment possible, as well as confidence that the results delivered are accurate, clear and definitive, and help them understand their condition and possible treatment options. And finally, our third output is enhanced assurance for the operator in meeting increasing challenges of budget and time-pressures that are imposed upon them by administrative changes. It is Canon’s strong belief that Intelligent MR solutions can deliver on all of these promises without compromise.
Changing the game with Advanced intelligent Clear-IQ Engine (AiCE)
In 2019, Canon introduced Advanced intelligent Clear-IQ Engine (AiCE) to the market on the Vantage Orian, making it the world’s first Deep Learning Reconstruction (DLR) MRI system approved by regulatory bodies globally. Shortly after the release on Vantage Orian, AiCE became commercially available on Canon's Vantage Galan 3T, Vantage Centurian and Vantage Elan.
AiCE utilises a deep learning reconstruction technique to remove noise from images and restore SNR. The power of deep learning has now been translated into clinical practice to provide exceptional image quality across a wide variety of clinical applications, including in combination with our range of rapid scan acceleration technologies.
New tools for enhanced productivity
With the enormous upheaval that has affected upon society and healthcare over the past 2 years, there is a renewed need for quick, sterile and safe MRI procedures. In response to these requirements, Canon will deliver new solutions that feature AI and focus on optimising the entire MRI procedural chain. These productivity and workflow solutions will be launched at the RSNA congress at the end of November 2021 and will be become available in each region once regulatory approval is gained.
The vision we hold within Canon MRI to improve the life of patients in partnership with our clinical partners has never been clearer. MRI plays a critical role in diagnostic decision-making yet is still unavailable in many parts of the world, due to the size and cost, let alone the clinical and technical education required to operate an MRI machine. And yet, we know that the capability to image without radiation is vital to both patients and radiologists, and we have a burning passion to widely expand MRI to support Canon’s ‘Made for Life’ philosophy.
At this time of enormous social change brought about by the events of the past 12-18 months, we firmly believe that the contribution that Canon MRI is making, and will continue to make, is more important than ever to the vital work that our clinical partners perform every day.
We are very proud to introduce some key developments that we have been working on and welcome you to take another look at Canon MRI. We hope you will be surprised by what you find and realise the value that Canon MRI can offer. We look forward to continuing on a journey with you, as we deepen our footprint in this important imaging modality, driven by what we refer to as ‘Intelligent MR’ performance.