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Indian scientists develop superconducting magnet system used in MRIs

In a big boost to ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives of the Modi government, Indian scientists have successfully developed India’s first superconducting magnet system used in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines.

The MRI machines uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.

An MRI scan can be used to examine almost any part of the body, including the brain and spinal cord, bones and joints, hearts and blood vessels, and internal organs such as the liver, womb or prostate gland.

The MRI machine uses magnets that generate such magnetic fields that are tens of thousands times greater than the Earth’s own magnetic field.

The development of the indigenous superconducting magnet system, one of the most important component of an MRI machine, is significant because India currently imports MRI machines from China and other countries.

The 1.5 Tesla superconducting MRI magnetic system, developed by Delhi-based Inter-University Accelerator Centre (IUAC), will not only enable cheaper indigenous production of MRI machines in India but will also put the country in the league of select countries with capabilities to produce these machines.

A single unit of 1.5 Tesla MRI machines costs around Rs 5-6 crore and Rs 9-11 crore for a single unit of 3 Tesla capacity.

Refurbished 1.5 T Siemens Magnetom Symphony Closed MRI Scanners are sold for Rs 1.75 crore to Rs 3 crore in India.

“In India, there are 1.5 MRI machines per million population whereas in developed countries it is more than 10 MRI per million. India needs a large number of MRI machines in the next few years which is only possible through indigenous manufacturing, thereby providing easy and cheaper healthcare access to the people,” IUAC director Professor Avinash Chandra Pandey was quoted in a Times of India report as saying.

Pandey said that the horizontal tube in an MRI machine through which the patient enters, known as the bore, contains a strong magnet from front to back.

“The entire system provides an incredibly strong and large, stable magnetic field,” he said.

Pandey added that the MRI machines that will be locally produced in India using the IUAC developed indigenous technology would be much cheaper compared to the imported ones.

“This would also help India export these units to other countries and thereby provide easy and cheaper healthcare access to the people, especially those of the third-world nations,” said Pandey.

The development will also bring down the exorbitant price of the MRI tests, he added.

Pandey informed that a few Indian industries are willing to build commercial magnets using the IUAC-developed technology.

This along with cryogen-free technology and artificial intelligence will lead to lighter and cheaper whole-body scanners which can be mounted on a mobile van for rural healthcare in the future,” he added. Swarajya

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