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A better MR experience

par Valerie Dimond, Contributing Reporter | September 07, 2020
From the September 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“It protects the patient’s hearing with 29 dB of noise reduction, allowing it to be used without additional earplugs at noise levels up to 128 dB,” Wolff said. “Many other over-the-ear headsets have substantially less sound attenuation and require the use of earplugs routinely.”

Wolff says many MR headsets still operate on antiquated technology developed a long time ago for the airline industry. “With this pneumatic technology, sound travels several feet within hollow tubes that are attached to the headset. As you might imagine, sound quality is poor, and it is even poorer still if the patient is also wearing earplugs,” he said, adding that even highly rated earplugs must be inserted properly and fill the ear canal to offer maximum protection, although most patients find this uncomfortable and fail to get or maintain a proper fit.

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“Sentinel’s speaker fits in the cup of the headset, right next to the patient’s ear, so the sound quality is great,” said Wolff. “The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health suggests that in real-life practice, over-the-ear headsets should be considered to have a 50% higher noise reduction rating than foam plugs even when they are labelled with the same noise reduction rating.”

The Sentinel headset’s music source also pauses automatically when the technologist uses push-to-talk or when the MR scanner gives pre-recorded breathing instructions to the patient.

Also on the audio front is Optoacoustics, which is now working on a new release of its OptoACTIVE active noise-cancelling MR headphones designed to help patients remain calm and motionless during the entire scan.

“We managed to eliminate the EPI noise learning mode; this means that a patient inside the MR will not be exposed to any scanner noise whatsoever before the OptoACTIVE starts actively cancelling noise,” explained Bob Rosenbaum, strategic marketing. “With OptoACTIVE, it's even possible for a patient to enjoy full-range, high-fidelity audio — an experience that conventional pneumatic headphones cannot provide.”

The company’s FOMRI, a noise-reducing microphone, is also becoming the “de facto standard for crisp, clear speech recording in MR research environments,” according to Rosenbaum. “Using the FOMRI microphone, a radiologist can easily hear even a slight whisper by the patient and immediately understand their condition — much better than having them squeeze a handpump.”

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