Medical

MRIs could soon be quicker and safer

The technology can easily be used with existing MRI machines
The technology can easily be used with existing MRI machines
View 1 Image
The technology can easily be used with existing MRI machines
1/1
The technology can easily be used with existing MRI machines

While MRI scans may not expose patients to the ionizing radiation found in X-rays, they still are potentially harmful. This is because the increased radiofrequency energy absorption associated with newer high-field and ultra-high-field MRI scanners can heat body tissue. Thanks to research being conducted at the Australian National University, however, that may soon no longer be an issue – additionally, scans could be quicker and produce higher-quality images.

The ANU scientist found that by placing ultrathin metallic resonators beneath the patient, they were able to suppress the electrical fields responsible for tissue heating.

Additionally, by redistributing the electromagnetic near fields, the researchers doubled the signal-to-noise ratio. This means that higher-resolution images could be obtained within the same amount of time – conversely, regular-resolution images could also be captured in less time than is presently possible. This means that patients wouldn't have to lie perfectly still within the scanner for as long, and that wait times could be reduced.

Made from metamaterials, which are "smart materials engineered to have properties that have not yet been found in nature," the inexpensive resonators can be used with existing MRI scanners of all types. That said, the university has partnered with medical tech company Mediwise to produce a line of scanners with the technology already built-in.

The scientists are also looking at integrating the metamaterial into clothing that could be worn by patients undergoing MRI scans.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Source: Australian National University

3 comments
KevB
If this technology works, then wow! As an MRI radiographer I know from experience many patients, especially sick patients, have difficulty keeping still for their examination. Keeping still is vital when imaging anything over time. If the object moves during the examination the net result is blurred and potentially useless. Depending on what a patient's physician has referred them to MRI for their scan can take from as little as 10 minutes right up to the long examinations of well over an hour. Not fun for some! So when advances in technology come along to reduce MRI examination times the noise they make and have the added bonus of greater signal to noise ratios for the resulting image then bring it on! This has to be a step in the right direction for both the patient and MRI service providers. The lists for people waiting for their MRI scans is on average growing the world over. Typically one MRI scanner can only handle approximately 20 to 25 examinations per typical hospital working day, depending on the type of examinations requested.
Peter Kelly
Any advance for these fantastic machines is welcome, but especially if they are quieter! They're so loud when just lying there trying to keep still that it's such a relief when the scan is over.
HensleyBeuronGarlington
I wish I could give you a like, KevB.