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Research MRI Facility

The Research MRI Facility has grown into an essential resource for basic and clinical research at SickKids, and for investigators from other external academic and commercial sites. 

The facility’s current MRI system is the Siemens 3T Prismafit, which offers a range of imaging capabilities, including conventional anatomical imaging to more advanced neuro and cardiovascular imaging, such as: 

  • Functional MRI 
  • Diffusion tensor imaging 
  • Tractography 
  • Phase-contrast flow imaging 
  • Delayed enhancement imaging 
  • Contrast-enhanced perfusion quantitation 
  • Arterial spin labeling 
  • Multinuclear spectroscopic imaging 
  • Hyperpolarized lung imaging

Our mission is to support your ongoing imaging research and development through timely access to cutting-edge Research Magnetic Resonance Imaging equipment. Led by experienced MRI technologists, we’ll work with you in efficiently acquiring your research data.

The 3.0T Siemens PrismaFit

As one of the core facilities of the SickKids Research Institute, we provide the research community access to the state-of-the-art Siemens 3T Prismafit MRI system. 

Specifications  
  • VE11C Software  
  • 48 Channel System  
  • XR Gradients (80 mT/m @ 200 T/m/s) 
  • 60cm bore diameter  
  • Long bore 213cm  
  • Direct RF design 
  • Advanced Multinuclear spectroscopy capabilities  
  • Simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) for diffusion and EPI sequences
Ancillary Equipment 
  • Resonance Technology Audio/Visual display system 
  • InVivo Expression physiological monitor  
  • Anesthetic gases for animal studies 
  • Neonatal Head Coil and Incubator/Ventilator 
  • Lode Up/Down Exercise Ergometer (MRI Compatible Bike)

Rates

MRI system rates are based on 30-minute time blocks.  

Fees include the use of the MRI system, one MRI research technologist assistant, and consumables typically used. Extra personnel costs (e.g. nursing, research assistant), use of special equipment, and contrast agent costs are available for an additional cost. 

 

MRI Peer Reviewed External/Internal Grant 

MRI Commercial for Profit 

Human 

$250/30 min 

≤$600/30 min 

Animal 

$300/hour  

  

 Overtime 

 $40.00/30 min  

$80/30 min

Gadovist 

$75.00/single use vial 

$150/single use vial 

Phantom Scan with MRT 

$300/hour 

 

TBD 

Phantom Scan No MRT 

$200/scan 

$400/scan 

Overtime 

An additional overtime fee will be charged for requests outside regular hours (e.g. weekends). Check out our scheduling information section for MRI hours and how to request overtime bookings. 

Cancellation 

All human-funded and phantom scan bookings cancelled within 48 hours of the scheduled time are subject to a billing of 50 per cent of the booked time. Animal-funded studies cancelled within 14 days of the scheduled time are subject to a billing of 50 per cent of the booked time.  

Post-processing 

All data analysis must be completed by the investigator. 

Application process

  1. Before you can book the 3.0T Siemens PrismaFit, all research studies must obtain Research Ethics (REB) or Animal Care Committee approval. Assistance from Legal services and/or the Grants Management Office may be required for external research projects.
  2. Applications are reviewed by the Research MRI technologist. You and/or your collaborators may be contacted for further protocol/sequence development and equipment testing if necessary. 
  3. The Research MRI Application Form can be completed and submitted entirely online. You’ll also need to fill out the Human Intake Form, if applicable. Completed application forms should be sent to

    Researchmri.team@sickkids.ca for approval.  

Once approved, you’ll have access to our online system for MRI and research assessment room bookings! 

Book the 3.0T Siemens PrismaFit for your next research project

Booking the 3.0T Siemens PrismaFit at the Research MRI facility can be completed entirely online in just a few easy steps. 

Logging in

Start by logging into our online booking system, Calpendo. 

Access the online calendar 

You can access the online calendar for available time slots on Calpendo, or you can add Calpendo resources to Outlook and view the calendar remotely through the Outlook 365 app. Note that this calendar will be read-only and will only update about once every hour.  

This calendar is only accessible from within the SickKids network and collaborating institutions. Full external access can be obtained through the VPN services provided by RIT or IS. 

Users who want to see the schedule without booking (e.g. PI of an ongoing study) can request access to the guest account by contacting us.

Contact Research MRI

Once your time slot is booked...

Now that your session is booked, here are a few considerations to keep in mind in the time leading up to your study. 

  • Considering the Tri-Council Policy Statement on participant confidentiality and privacy, please do not include participant personal information such as initials, age, gender, diagnostic, etc. in the booking comments. You can use participant codes to distinguish your bookings instead. There’s a field specifically for that purpose that we encourage you to use as a way to provide the code to the technologist and confirm your booking. 
  • Billing is directly linked to the schedule. Only an administrator can edit past bookings, so if you think there’s a mistake, please contact us. You can however cancel or modify bookings up to the start time, but note that billing will take into account late cancellations as per the cancellation policy.
  • No participant can be scanned without a valid active REB. When a project is due for REB renewal, you will not be able to have bookings approved until the REB is updated in our files. If you get a notice about REB expiry, please inform the study PI immediately and forward the renewal confirmation letter when it’s available. We will sometimes notify users, but it’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure we can approve your bookings in time.

Reserving time without confirmed participants is not allowed. 

Bookings that are unapproved because of missing information will be automatically cancelled after a certain period of time, and after an automated email warning.

The following deadlines allow users reasonable time to provide the required information (requisition or subject ID). 

Time between booking and appointment 

Warning email sent 

Booking automatically denied if still unapproved (MR) or tentative (MEG)

>= 20 work days

5 work days after booking 

 

24 hours after warning  

 

>= 5 work days, < 20 work days 

1 work day after booking 

 

< 5 work days  

Immediately 

 

Bookings past project expiry date, and past above deadlines 

1 work day after project is extended 

 

There is a special provision for bookings made past the current project expiry (e.g. REB expiry for human studies).  For those bookings, the deadlines won't be applied since they cannot be approved until the project is extended (REB renewal received). In this case, we’ll approve bookings that are in order, and the next work day, a warning will be sent for the remaining bookings that are past the approval deadlines. Users then have the usual 24 hours to provide the requisitions or subject IDs.

Bookings are made in increments of 30 minutes and should include time in the lab for setting up equipment, preparing participants (placing fiducials, attending to their comfort, explaining tasks, etc.), actual scanning time, and equipment disassembly. 

Note that you may need additional time for younger or clinical populations, as they’ll need more time to get comfortable with the scanner. Data quality may suffer if the appropriate time is not planned for. 

To accommodate studies that require more complex equipment, you can arrive a few minutes early if the schedule allows it and the technologist agrees. However, anything other than equipment setup will be billed, in 30 minute increments, from the earliest of either the booking start or the actual start time.  

Please remember these are shared facilities,so we don’t allow to go over scheduled times. The area should be cleared and ready for the next group by the end of your booked time. If this isn’t the case, depending on whether or not the schedule permits additional time, the scan may be terminated, or the additional time billed in 30 minute increments. When external factors such as system issues contribute to delays, we’ll do our best to be flexible and maintain booking durations.  

Late arrivals will be handled at the technologist's discretion; it is the investigator's responsibility to have the participants/patients arrive promptly and be prepared to start the study at the scheduled time. 

If the investigator has booked time in the schedule that is not correct, he/she will be notified and bumped from the system with an explanation. The investigator may then reschedule in a suitable available time slot.

We require 48 hours notice prior to canceling a booked session. You can cancel your booking by notifying the technologist and removing your code from the calendar.

If 48 hours notice is not given prior to cancellation, the study will be charged for 50 per cent of the booked time with a minimum of 30 minutes, at the normal rate.

The Research MRI technologist will inform investigators and research coordinators in any event of equipment down time, but it’s the responsibility of the investigators and research coordinators to notify their participants/patients. 

Your study may require booking a participant outside of our regular operating hours.

We occasionally accommodate special bookings when we have a technologist available. You should contact the MRI technologist directly for special booking requests. If they’re required to be present and accept, there’ll be an overtime fee added to the regular hourly rate for your session. 

For work on weekends or holidays, a minimum of four hours would be billed. If the presence of a technologist is not required because a trained and approved researcher from your group has accepted to run the session, the overtime fee and the minimum of four hours do not apply. The booking must still be arranged and approved by the technologist and the time will be billed as usual. 

Note that all paediatrics and/or diseased participants must be scanned by a registered technologist. Human-funded healthy volunteers may be scanned by a trained researcher. Basic research scanning can be booked outside regular hours directly.  

The Research MRI & MEG Reception area has a small assessment room that’s free to book for running behavioural assessments on subjects that are booked for an MRI or MEG research study. Note that there’s no computer in the assessment room.  

Animal research studies are permitted for a maximum of three hour bookings per study on designated animal days, which are currently designated for Tuesdays.

Currently, two weeks' notice is required for booking animals. Contact the MRI Technologist for additional information.

Animals and humans can be scanned on the same day. However, a terminal cleaning must be done between them, with a two hour gap in booking time. The time and cleaning have been implemented in accordance with infection control. 

Facility procedures

Before you arrive for your session, be sure to familiarize yourself with our facility's procedures.

To facilitate new grant submissions, SickKids investigators with REB approval collect data on our research MRI systems to support proposed grants. Data is used to create figures for a grant, but aren’t intended for publication or to act as a pilot study in substitution of a proposed grant.

Data is normally provided from a small number of participants (less than five). This is the typical procedure we follow:

  1. The principal investigator (PI, who's a permanent SickKids staff member) contacts Dr. Chris Macgowan by email with: 
    • Title of the grant 
    • Proposed funding agencies and dates for submission 
    • Expected budget amount 
    • Requested number of MRI hours/examinations 

    2. The PI, Dr. Macgowan and a technologist will meet to discuss the project. From there, we’ll need the following:

    • Justification of hours/examination requested and time line for studies. 
    • Outline of expected future usage of the research MRI once the project is funded. 

     3. Following the meeting, Dr. Macgowan will provide an e-mail to the applicant with a decision, including the number of approved hours/examinations and a booking code for the study. 

Before scanning day, the pink request form (customized project forms are available from the patient information clerk) and a signed copy of consent must be submitted to the Research MRI/MEG Reception, Room S742.

  1. Please arrive with your participant 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled scan time at the Research MRI-MEG Reception. This time allows for participant registration, clothes change, and final screening (including contrast screening for the subject or non-Patient screening for the parent/guardian if required). For bookings scheduled outside reception hours, go directly to the MRI scanning area. 
  2. When the technologist is ready, you’ll be directed to the MRI lab and the scan or experiment will begin. 
  3. After the session is completed, transferring your data as required. It’s the responsibility of the PI to ensure all data is of optimum quality, and has been properly transferred and/or archived before the data is deleted from the acquisition system. 

Research MRI reception

The reception area is used to welcome, register and prepare research participants with the assistance of our patient information clerk. There is a small waiting area, change room and washroom. It is located in room S742, Atrium, on the service floor.

The reception hours are:  

  • Mon-Fri: 7:30 am. to noon, and 1 to 3:30 p.m.

The reception door is locked. Research assistants with MRI participants scheduled outside the reception hours should arrange a meeting time and area with the MRI technologist.  

Research participant registration

All research study subjects who come to SickKids for a research visit should be registered by an information coordinator/clerk using KidCom, the SickKids patient registration system.

This process helps SickKids keep better statistics on research conducted at the hospital, identify participants and activities that are part of SickKids-sanctioned research from a liability perspective, and clearly link research and patient records.

It’s the researcher's responsibility to ensure subjects are registered, which we're happy to help with at research MRI-MEG reception. Any involvement with a research subject should be registered, including obtaining informed consent or interviewing subjects/parents in person, administering a questionnaire, or administering study procedures. However, participants only need to be registered once per day, per clinic. 

Subjects that are scheduled for an MRI before reception opens on a weekday will be pre-registered the day before the visit, and the registration will be completed by admitting.

In order for the pre-registration to be possible, the requisition form must be properly completed, including the subject's legal name (as represented on their health card), date of birth and SickKids medical record number (MRN) if known.

If an MRN does not exist (first visit to the hospital), please include: 

  • The health card number 
  • Home address and telephone number 
  • Guardian name 
  • Alternate contact numbers

If the visit is scheduled after reception closes, participants will be registered at admitting. In both cases, please proceed directly to the Research MRI area. 

For bookings on weekends or holidays, the subject should check in at the admitting area on the main floor of the Atrium (near the Elizabeth Street entrance). Subjects should bring their OHIP card and register under the Diagnostic Imaging Research service clinic.

Patients will also be asked for the referring physician, who is normally the PI. Our information clerk can pre-register these participants if their information is available, but they still have to go to admitting and check in for a DI Research visit.

As data gets deleted from the acquisition systems without notification, please verify that all your data is properly transferred and intact after each collection. It's the researcher's responsibility to make copies of their data. Investigators looking for secure file storage should consider RIT's File Storage Services or purchase their own backup solution. 

MRI data acquisition is automatically deleted on day five, though it could be removed sooner. There is no long-term backup system. It is imperative to copy and verify all data immediately after scan. 

Researchers can get their data from the scanner using any one of the following methods.

  • GE Research PACS
  • Dicom node transfer: transfer directly from the scanner to a Linux box or virtual machine within the hospital firewall 
  • Provide access to copy data to a RIT Carbon file share 

Additional resources

Doctor reviewing an MRI scan

Research PACS

Images related to prospective studies are stored on Research PACS. For information on obtaining access to your project’s imaging studies on RPACS, contact the SickKids Research Help Desk.

Diagnostic Imaging Services

If your next project requires diagnostic imaging equipment, you can check out SickKids’ diagnostic imaging services for equipment availability and rates on MySickKids. Note that these services are exclusive to SickKids staff.

Doctor holding anaesthesia equipment

Anesthesia contact information

The Research MRI Facility does not currently offer anaesthesia service. Investigators requiring anaesthesia for research participants can contact the Diagnostic Imaging Clinical Research Office.

Directions

We're located on the service floor of the Atrium in the main hospital building - follow the signs to Research MEG Reception, Room S742. If it’s your first time visiting SickKids hospital, we can help you plan your route!

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