Siemens Healthineers inks MRI deal to harness HeartVista's cardiac imaging AI

Siemens Healthineers has inked a deal with HeartVista to fully integrate the company’s artificial intelligence programs for cardiac imaging scans within its MRI machines. 

HeartVista’s AI-powered image acquisition software had previously received clearance from the FDA for use with Siemens’ MRI scanners. Now, the two companies will be able to combine their respective methods for taking MRIs, known as sequences, into a single automated clinical imaging protocol. 

It’s part of a larger initiative dubbed Access-i, a platform that allows software from third-party developers to run on Siemens scanners. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Despite its clear benefits, the previous version of our software forced customers to choose between HeartVista's automated sequences and manual ones that may be more familiar,” HeartVista CEO Itamar Kandel said in a release

“On that basis alone, we restricted access to the broader market in direct conflict with our mission,” Kandel said. “Working closely with Siemens Healthineers and implementing the Access-i interface, we have removed a key barrier to market adoption.”

HeartVista’s one-click program for conducting cardiac MRIs is designed to decrease total scan duration and reduce the number of times a patient must hold their breath to gather a clear image while making it easier to spot potential heart defects. 

Though cardiac MRIs can help detect all major heart conditions, including those affecting the valves, muscle wall and blood vessels, they have been underutilized due to being complex procedures that require specialized training and extended scanner time, according to HeartVista.

At the same time, Siemens unveiled two new, high-powered MRI machines designed for clinical and research use. 

They include the Magnetom Terra.X, with a magnetic field strength of 7 Tesla, and the 3T Magnetom Cima.X. Both are equipped with AI algorithms that aim to reduce scanning times when imaging the smallest structures in the human body.

The Terra.X is designed as the successor to the 7T Terra scanner launched in 2017. According to Siemens, its high field strength can help the device picture not just minuscule portions of a person’s anatomy but also help visualize their cellular metabolism.

The Cima.X, meanwhile, will employ a highly sensitive magnetic field, with what’s known as a steep magnetic gradient that is 2.5 times higher than the company’s previously strongest scanner. This will allow the machine to capture clearer images of much smaller biological structures, such as those in the central nervous system, that couldn’t be seen with traditional MRIs.