Portable MRI can accurately detect most common form of stroke
New research has found the world’s first portable MRI machine can accurately detect ischemic strokes. The machine was cleared for use by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2020 and researchers are increasingly demonstrating it to be as effective a diagnostic tool as bigger, more expensive MRI devices.
While the device has been approved by the FDA for use in the United States, researchers are still exploring the best ways to deploy it in real-world situations. This latest research looks at how well the portable MRI detects ischemic strokes, the most common form of stroke.
There are two kinds of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot blocks blood flow in the brain, while a hemorrhagic stoke is the result of bleeding in the brain.
When a patient presents to an emergency room with symptoms of stroke it is crucial doctors quickly identify whether the stroke is ischemic or hemorrhagic. Treating a suspected ischemic stroke with blood thinners, for example, could prove fatal if the stroke was actually hemorrhagic.
So this new study set out to investigate how accurately the portable MRI machine could detect ischemic stroke. A collaboration between researchers at the Yale School of Medicine and Harvard University looked at 50 patients from the Yale New Haven Hospital.
Each patient had conventional MRI scans to confirm a diagnosis of ischemic stroke. They were then scanned with the portable MRI machine, which could accurately detect brain blood clots in 90 percent of the cohort.
The portable machine was tested in a variety of emergency room and intensive care scenarios. It was found to detect blood clots as small as 4 mm in diameter.
"This is the first systematic evidence you can detect ischemic strokes using portable, bedside devices," noted co-corresponding author Kevin Sheth.
The findings affirm the clinical utility of these new portable MRI (pMRI) machines. Although they cannot achieve the accuracy or detail of a conventional MRI the researchers claim the new devices can make MRI scans more accessible to greater numbers of patients.
Traditional MRI machines require trained technicians and costly infrastructure. Entire rooms need to be constructed to house the machines, whereas these portable devices can simply be wheeled around hospitals. Patients can be scanned at their bedside and providers need only minimal training to run the machines.
“… the ease of use and low cost of pMRI position this novel imaging modality to address clinical bottlenecks and unmet imaging needs in resource-limited settings,” the researchers concluded in the new study. “Together, these results suggest that low-field pMRI can create imaging pathways that circumvent challenges and limitations associated with traditional stroke imaging approaches.”
The new study was published in the journal Science Advances.
Source: Yale News