Junior researcher first-authors consensus article on 7 Tesla Scanners

04 February 2021

PhD student Giske Opheim is the first author on a consensus article in scientific journal Neurology that aims to help researchers and clinical users to better understand how to use 7 Tesla MRI scanners.

Giske Opheim, who is a PhD student at the Neurobiology Research Unit (NRU) at Rigshospitalet, has recently published the “7T Epilepsy Task Force Consensus Recommendations on the use of 7T in Clinical Practice” in Neurology, which is the most widely read and highly cited peer-reviewed neurology journal.

I wish I had a set of recommendations like this, when I started working with the 7T scanner’, says Giske Opheim, who has worked with 7T scanners during her PhD and since she studied Neuroscience and Neuroimaging at SDC from 2015 to 2017.

7 Tesla scanners

The technology of the 7T scanners is still new and until 2017 they were only used for research. There still are not many of them in use, for instance, Denmark has just one, which is located at Hvidovre Hospital. The ‘7’ refers to the power of the magnet in the machine and very simplified one can say that. the more powerful the magnet the better resolution images it can produce with a scan duration that is acceptable in the clinic. For comparison, the clinical standard of scanners is 1.5 Tesla or 3 Tesla.

I have heard people compare the 7 Tesla MRI scanner with the fastest sportscars that everybody wants to play around with, but what good is playing around with the most advanced tech, if you are not going to take advantage of its potential benefit for patients?’, she says.

For Giske Opheim, conducting research with the newest technology is great, but her ultimate goal is to contribute to bringing technology to clinical use where it benefits real patients.

The primary subject of the article is patients that have epilepsy, and it can be difficult to see on an MR image where the epilepsy seizures most likely originate, which may complicate the decision on whether to operate or not, explains Giske Opheim.

'If the technology of the 7T scanner can help doctors make the right call, either to operate or not to operate, then that can make a huge difference to the quality of life of the patients. Particularly for patients with epilepsy that is very complicated to evaluate, where 7T MR may as well point clinicians in another direction that what the standard 3T MR did', she says.

Amassing experience

‘The scientific studies that were made for the purpose of evaluating the clinical benefit of using the 7T scanners were often conducted in different ways, because there aren’t many of them around and few people with a lot of knowledge. Different images and sequences were used for different kinds of patients, so the conclusions were also different’, says Giske Opheim.

The idea of amassing research centres that had experience with 7 Tesla scanners came to fore among researchers at an international MR conference, and it was decided that a consensus article based on their experiences should be the outcome. Researchers from 21 research centres from Denmark, China, Europe and the US shared their experiences and voted among themselves for the best setup of the machine, how to produce images and the best ways of interpreting those images, with the purpose of sharing their consensus with a broad audience.

Giske Opheim’s role in the process was to design the survey that was used to map the experiences of the research groups, gather the threads and write up the article based on all the input from experts within the topics that are covered.

For me, as a PhD student, it was incredible to get the opportunity to work with so many people that have so much more experience than me. As the only junior researcher of the group it was a big responsibility, because it required putting in a lot of leg work, but I feel fortunate to have been trusted with the role and I am proud of the result.’, she says.

Giske Opheim will defend her PhD thesis on 5 February and afterwards she will continue as a post.doc at NRU.

Click here if you want to read more about Giske's journey as an aspiring researcher.