MRRC: Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

How do I get to the MRRC?

We are located inside UPMC Presbyterian hospital on the 8th floor. You can use these directions to get to the MRRC:
Enter the main entrance and proceed up the main escalators. When the main escalators drop you off you will turn left and walk past a seating area (on left) and a large sign for “Registration and Diagnostic Testing” (on the right). After you pass the hospital gift shop (on your left), you will turn right at a sign directing you to the B wind elevators. Follow this hallway until it ends and turn left. You will pass elevators on your left before arriving at a ramp and steps down to the four, B wing elevators. Take any of the four B wing elevators up to the 8th floor. When you exit the elevators on the 8th floor you are inside the MRRC. The MR technologist’s office is to the right where you will likely be able to find a staff member. If there are no staff members present at the moment you arrive, simply have a seat in the waiting area until someone can help you.

Who do I contact with a specific question?

Use the following guide to pick the appropriate MRRC faculty or staff member for your question based on the topic:
  • New study inquiry: Andrew Reineberg
  • Scheduler accounts: Psychiatry = Jackie Toboz, All other departments = Andrew Reineberg
  • Urgent calendar requests: Online scheduler (1st priority), MR technologists (2nd), Andrew Reineberg (3rd)
  • Fixed slot assignments: Andrew Reineberg
  • Financial questions: Steve Custer
  • MR safety: MR Technologists
  • Technical questions: MRRC faculty physicist assigned to your protocol (1st priority), Chan Moon (2nd)
  • Data transfer, stimuli presentation, control/practice room hardware issues: Steve Hegedus

Can MRRC place IVs for contrast administration?

No. MRRC does not have nursing staff to place IVs. Prospective contrast/drug studies should have an IV placed at the CTRC prior to their scanning session. MRRC can administer contrast. MRRC staff can remove the IV after the scan has concluded.

How do I get my data from the MRRC?

MRRC's standard operating procedure is to push all data from the scanners to our XNAT server. MRRC can accomodate some additional destinations. For example, we can push deidentified images to Clinicview - either the braddock/EIMS vault or Presby vault (legacy term: STENTOR) - for radiology reads. At our IT team's discretion, we can accomodate sending data directly to external sites. For complex cases, the study team will be asked to download data from the MRRC XNAT server and push it to external collaborators/industry partners.

Scheduling Questions

How do I request a session at one of the MRRC scanners?

All scheduling is done through our online portal. You must be connected to UPMC's network to access this website which means you need to be on the Oakland Campus or use UPMC's My Apps web portal to access it remotely for work-from-home situations. If you do not have a UPMC account, MRRC can sponsor one. You must email our IT Manager Cristy Matan to have a UPMC account sponsored.

Study teams use one of two methods for scheduling - on demand scheduling and fixed scheduling. On demand scheduling is available for study teams that want to schedule participants at will. Fixed scheduling is available for study teams that intend to schedule a participant at the same day/time every week or every other week with extreme regularity over 1 or more years.

To utilize on demand scheduling please follow the process below. Scheduling has two main components - having a time allocated to your study and entering information for your participant. Details are below:

  1. Log in to the MRRC's online portal using the account code and password provided to you during onboarding
  2. Review the schedule and look for available time (white), canceled time (red), or fixed slot's that aren't being used (light blue). You should only consider times for the scanner you are authorized to use. If you are unsure which scanner you are authorized to use, please email the MRRC faculty physicist assigned to your protocol.
  3. If the slot you are interested in is red or light blue, click the session and select the Priority Request or Urgent Request button to have the slot allocated to your study code. Priority requests usually are confirmed within 2 business days. Urgent requests are usually confirmed within a few hours. If the slot you are interested in is white, simply enter your study information and submit the request with all required information. MRRC staff will review these request and create a green slot on the calendar indicating the slot is successfully allocated to your study.
  4. Click you green scanning session on the calendar and select the "Submit Subject Information Here" option. Enter the required participant information. Save the subject information. Note: MRRC reserves the right to cancel sessions for studies that do not submit subject information prior to start of the scanning session.

To utilize fixed scheduling, email Andrew Reineberg to request a day/time. Upon confirmation, your reservation will be added to the schedule. Fixed scheduling reservations are typically added to the calendar approximately 2 months out. You reservation will appear on the calendar in a green box indicating the fixed slot is allocated to your study and available. If you have not entered participant information one week out from your reservation, the MRRC scheduler will automatically prompt you to enter screening information. If you have not entered participant information 5 days out from your reservation, the MRRC scheduler will automatically open the slot for the greater MRRC community to access. MRRC tracks fixed slot usage and retains the right to reclaim fixed slots with less than 50% utilization for a period of greater than 2 months. We are able to accommodate additional fixed slots for studies with high usage rates (e.g., typically 75% or higher usage). Note, it is considered best practice to open any of your fixed slots to the greater community as soon as you know you will not need the reserved time. To open an unneeded fixed slot, 1. select the slot, 2. select the "Edit Entry" option, and 3. change the "Type" of the slot to "Fixed Slot Available".

What do the colors on the calendar mean?

  • Green = MRRC authorized a slot for listed study team
  • Light Blue = MRRC authorized a slot for listed study team but the study team did not use the slot (changes from green to blue approximately 5 days out)
  • Bright Pink = Study team entered participant information and it is waiting for MR techs to confirm the information is valid (it can get stuck on this color if information is missing)
  • Yellow = The technologists validated the information and no further information is needed from the study team
  • Red = Cancellation
  • Grey = Session completed successfully and study team will be billed

My study uses a 32-channel head coil but I am not sure if one is available. How do I proceed?

The MRRC has three Prisma scanners but only two, compatible 32-channel head coils. It is the responsibility of the study team to reserve the coil at the same time they reserve a scanner. For studies that have a fixed slot reservation of a 32-channel head coil (typically for studies that only use 32-channel head coils), you must enter participant information for the green coil slot at the same time you enter participant information for the scanner itself. For users that utilize on demand scheduling or users without a fixed slot reservation of a 32-channel head coil, use the priority request function to reserve a 32-channel head coil. Either 32-channel head coil can be used on any of the Prisma scanners.

The image above demonstrates several possible scenarios regarding the 32 channel head coils:
  1. 7am-8am: No 32-channel head coils are available. PI Johnson can use their fixed slot so long as they only need a 20/64-channel head coil or a body coil.
  2. 9am-10am: One 32-channel head coil is available. The first of PI Smith and PI Johnson to submit participant information for their slot may also claim the last remaining 32-channel head coil. If PI Smith is first to schedule, they should use the "Submit Subject Information" function to claim the remaining 32-channel head coil. If PI Johnson is first to submit participant information, they should use the "Priority Request" function to have the remaining 32-channel head coil allocated to their study code.
  3. 11am-12pm: One 32-channel head coil is available. Also, Prisma 2 and Prisma 3 are available because PIs Smith and Johnson made their fixed slot available to the broader community. Any PI can use the "Priority Request" function to claim one of the available scanners. The requesting group should also use the "Priority Request" function to have the remaining 32-channel head coil allocated to their study code, if needed.
  4. 1pm-2pm: All scanners and coils are available because PIs Doe, Smith, and Johnson are not using their fixed slots. Any PI can use the "Priority Request" function to claim one of the available scanners and, if needed, one of the 32-channel head coils.

My study uses limited availability equipment (e.g., vitals monitor, brain vision). How do I ensure it is available for my study?

Much like the 32-channel head coils, all other limited availability equipment at the MRRC is "first come, first serve". You must book this equipment at the same time you book your scanning session. Booking limited availability equipment before entering participant information for your scanning session is not appropriate or fair scheduling practice.

Safety Screening Questions

How does the center handle incidental findings?

Our MRI technologists review all the incoming data as it comes off the scanner. If they identify an incidental finding (e.g., arachnoid cyst), the data gets sent to the Braddock/EIMS vault on Clinicview to our on-call radiologist, Dr. Mettenburg, who will do a read and email the report to the study team. It is the PI's duty to inform the participant of any incidental findings. There is an elevated response for potentially severe or life threatening findings. This standard process is complementary and is included in our hourly rate. A few studies want a clinical read on ALL data regardless of whether our technologists see anything unusual. In those cases, the study team would need an additional financial arrangement with a radiologist in our system to facilitate that extra work.