The MRI in Practice Course has been running since 1992, and over the years participants have commented that they would like some clinical technique included. I have always thought this to be a tricky thing to offer because scanners are all different, use different terminology, different acronyms, offer different techniques, have different field-strengths and radiologists all have their own preferences when it comes down to protocols. It seemed a waste of our time and your money to include clinical topics on the MRI in Practice Course. Another reason for my thinking, was that we used to help organise a very popular clinical radiology course back in the noughties (The Somerset MRI Course). This was a really fantastic clinical course, but as the years went by, we realised that as MRI grew older, most people could learn the job quite well without having to listen to outside experts - because by this time they probably had experts in their own departments. Some readers may be old enough to recall  that when MRI started out, hardly anyone knew anything about anything in MRI, and people were happy just to meet someone who had done some scanning. 

So what changed? In a word, COVID, and the necessity to provide safe online education. In 2020 we completely redesigned and updated the MRI in Practice course and as part of that process we realised that all manner of additional content could be included that participants could access at their leisure. At the same time I was thinking about creating a course for assistant practitioners in MRI. Something that would give them all the info they need about the basics of MRI and patient positioning for all of the commonly requested MRI exams. This year saw the publication of the new 5th edition of The Handbook of MRI Technique and Cathy suggested we use that as a template for a new course.

The lectures follow the structure of the book, but allow the inclusion of animated graphics, CGI positioning images and some more examples of common pathologies. The book contains more information about less commonly examined areas and also goes into more detail on some topics. The lectures are as follows:


01. Fundamental principles of MRI (Dr. John Talbot)

02. Protocol Parameters and Tradeoffs (Dr. John Talbot)

03. MRI Pulse Sequences and Image Contrast (Dr. John Talbot)

04. The A-Z of MRI Artefacts (Dr. John Talbot)

05. Patient Care and MRI Safety (Dr. John Talbot)

06. MRI of the Brain (Dr. Catherine Westbrook)

07. MRI of the Spine (Dr Catherine Westbrook)

08. MRI of the Abdomen and Pelvis  (Dr Catherine Westbrook)

09. MRI of the Upper Limb  (Dr Catherine Westbrook)

10. MRI of the Lower Limb  (Dr Catherine Westbrook)

Some readers might be wondering whether the "fundamentals" lectures (1-5) on the Handbook course are just edited versions of the equivalent lectures on MRI in Practice. Well I can reassure you that (with the exception of  Artefacts and some of Patient Care) they are not. It wouldn't really matter if they were - because they are largely intended for a different audience, but more importantly - because we have decided to include the full handbook course completely free of charge to people attending the MRI in Practice course. Yes, really - you get the whole Handbook course for nothing!

Why would we do that (apart from being extremely generous people)?  Well, because these lectures make really good revision sessions. Although they contain the same topics, they all offer a slightly different perspective from the MRI in Practice lectures. This is quite intentional, because (as any qualified educator will tell you) revision works really well if you hear about a concept from another person's perspective. For example, in the MRI in Practice course, Cathy deals with topics such as fundamental principles, gradient echo and protocol optimisation, in the handbook course you get a different perspective from my viewpoint. The topic of spatial encoding, on the MRI in Practice course  is viewed through a "spatial frequencies" lens and uses a cool vector model devised by Prof. Donald Plewes. For the Handbook course I take a different approach and use a musical spectrum analysis analogy. If any of you have ever been the UKIO conferences you may have seen me present a lecture entitled "MRI in 15 Minutes" (in which I consistently fail to cover the whole of MRI in 15 minutes). That lecture forms the main part of the fundamentals lecture on the handbook course - but I have expanded it (I now fail to cover the whole of MRI in 30 minutes). So for most of these topics the handbook lectures offer new insights.
In addition, the new lectures now add that extra clinical-technique content that people have been requesting for years, but without taking up any time on the MRI in Practice Online course (because the new content can be streamed on-demand whenever the participants wish to watch it).

Our original plan was to also offer this course on-demand to developing nations where the exchange rate made it impossible for them to attend MRI in Practice.  We get numerous enquiries from countries such as India and Nigeria about the provision of  affordable education. We therefore priced each Handbook lecture at less than a cup of coffee. This version of the course has now  (regrettably) been discontinued because we were still being constantly pestered to offer our services free of charge and almost everyone buying the lectures were from countries where they could have accessed the material for free as part of our MRI in Practice course deal.

Hope to see you on the course!