HQ imaging impacting German radiology

The market for German startup HQ Imaging (°2015) is growing fast with the latest trend in radiology towards more standardization of MRI protocols.

It has become clear that having high-quality images is not only valuable for state-of-the-art research purposes. Also in routine clinical practice, it is crucial to use the right imaging protocol and the right scanner settings. This is especially the case when assessing multiple scans of patients over time in order to monitor disease progression. Patients do not always have their follow up scans on the same machine so large differences due to sub-optimal image quality make it extremely difficult for the radiologist to draw meaningful conclusions.

Since primary endpoints for clinical trials in neurological disorders are now often involving MRI data, also for pharmaceutical companies, harmonization of scanners is what can make or break a multi-center clinical trial.


Diffusion MRI phantoms across the world

The Diffusion MRI phantoms that are developed and manufactured by HQ Imaging, are being used by radiologists and scientists all over the world. HQ Imaging phantoms are making a difference in small research projects as well as large government-sponsored initiatives.

The Human Connectome Project, for example, uses cutting-edge brain imaging technologies to map the circuitry of the healthy adult human brain. Brain imaging data from hundreds of subjects is collected to yield insight into how brain connections underlie brain function. Quality assurance of the image data is a must. „We got the phantom in 2013 and have been using it for method and sequence development purposes. It is a wonderful tool to get ground truth data for crossing fiber in an easy and reliable fashion.“ says Dr. Kawin Setsompop, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Human Connectome Project.

Also at Harvard, the HQ Imaging  phantoms play an important role. „We have been using data obtained with the Q-Ball crossing phantom for the development of fiber crossing reconstructions. It’s the first time that we could actually use well-validated ground truth data for this purpose, which has put forward our research tremendously.” – Prof. Dr. Yogesh Rathi, Harvard Medical School.

In Europe, many hospitals are using the HQ Imaging phantoms for the CENTER-TBI study which aims to improve the care of people with traumatic brain injuries. Dr. Pim Pullens, Head of quality management program of the pan-European center-TBI study explains: „We have been using 35 HQ Imaging DTI phantoms at 35 research sites in our pan-European center-TBI study (see www.center-tbi.eu), which is focused on the DTI-based investigation of traumatic brain injuries. The phantoms have served us extremely well and allowed for a true quantitative quality control management for this complex technique, which could not have been performed without them.“

Before Dr. Michael Bach and the HQ Imaging team developed their phantoms, biological tissue or synthetic self-made phantoms were often used by researchers. However, many problems emerged with those, such as the following:

  • low diffusion anisotropy
  • strong variation in the diffusion measures
  • no clearly defined regions of diffusion anisotropy
  • poor reproducibility
  • orientational dependency of the measurement.

This is why the HQ Imaging phantoms have become the phantom of choice. They serve as ground truth for both macro-structural parameters (like the strand dimension or the fiber pathway) as well as for microstructural parameters (like the apparent diffusion coefficient or the diffusion anisotropy).

Read more about the different kinds of high-performance DTI phantoms developed by HQ Imaging: