Magnetoencephalography (MEG) affords functional brain imaging with excellent spatial and temporal resolution. The scans are completely non-invasive and silent. Neuroscientists appreciate the sensitivity of MEG to even the subtlest of brain signals. For clinicians, the information gained through MEG leads to better surgical outcomes, especially in cases of severe epilepsy or brain lesions near eloquent cortex. York Instruments has incorporated recent dramatic developments in cryogenics, sensors, electronics and software into MEGSCAN. This revolutionary new MEG system is robust, accurate and highly modular. Above all, its flexibility of design is intended to keep pace with ongoing technological developments.
MEGSCAN is for investigational use only. It is not available for clinical use until regulatory approvals have been granted.
High performance magnetic sensors lie at the heart of every MEG system. The magnetic sensors used in MEGSCAN are hybrid quantum interference devices, HyQUIDs. HyQUID sensors, developed at Royal Holloway University, are more sensitive and have a lower noise floor than SQUID technology which is traditionally used in MEG. These cutting-edge sensors allow for recording of slow wave brain activity, and support clinical applications where slow waves are symptomatic of underlying pathology. The new sensors open the door to diagnostics of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. At the other end of the spectrum, ultra-high frequency oscillations are also easily measurable.
Low noise electronics
The HyQUID sensors in the cryostat are controlled by advanced electronics outside the MSR. Using ultra low noise electronics mean no limitations on signal from the HyQUID sensor. The electronics in the rack use Flux Locked Loop circuitry to control the HyQUIDs and generate an output signal that is linearly related to the magnetic field changes detected at the helmet of MEGSCAN. The electronics synchronise and digitise the recorded responses, preparing them for display, storage and analysis.
York Instruments’ modular approach to electronics design means low cost, easy maintenance and easy future expandability for more EEG or analogue channels. The electronics are designed to support further advances in sensor technology. All hardware communication uses industry standard protocols which allow low latency access to data streams eg real-time display and real-time processing.
Liquid helium free cooling
York Instruments has taken advantage of recent advances in cryogenics to make a unique liquid helium free MEG. The HyQUID sensors operate in a superconducting environment that is maintained by Pulse Tube Refrigeration technology. Eliminating refilling and complex recycling of cryogens is one of the most significant changes to MEG technology in decades, reducing cost and removing the need to handle cryogens. The new system is more compact, has a lower operating cost, can be turned off and on quickly, and can be located in regions where it is difficult to ensure a regular liquid helium supply.
Ease of Use
MEGSCAN users enjoy dramatically improved usability in data acquisition and review. The dedicated suite of MEGSCAN software is installed on operator consoles outside the MSR, where participant preparation, data acquisition, and data visualisation and processing can be managed. This software has high-speed network connections to the Electronics Spine and a MEGSCAN Server Rack, enabling high sample rates for data acquisition. A separate interface for system configuration restricts access to system-level settings.
York Instruments’ software uses a plug-in architecture, permitting users to add their preferred protocols and tools to the control suite. Users can then easily export data files to open-source analysis packages. Simultaneous EEG data acquisition and viewing is enabled. Data is readable across all platforms using standard formats, while users will benefit from interface design that is effective and modern. In-built remote monitoring gives enhanced service support for the life of the scanner.
Patient comfort is critical to capturing good scan data, especially when working with children or vulnerable subjects. The product design for MEGSCAN reflects detailed input from clinical and research users. The MEGSCAN environment limits all extraneous wiring and equipment to create a calm, harmonious scanning environment. In particular, electronics and tubing are routed out of the MSR to reduce equipment clutter. In-built cupboards within the magnetically shielded room result in reduced clutter.
The custom subject bed or chair can be raised for prep and lowered for the scan.
Paediatric options are available as a build time option for sites that principally work with younger age groups.
As a patient, you may be wondering what to expect when taking part in a MEG scan. Click the link below to find out more.