Faster, more precise MRI for the medical world

September 25, 2004

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) revolutionised the medical world two decades ago, providing doctors with an unparalleled view inside the human body. Now, MRI-MARCB has taken MRI to a new level with a system that enhances image quality, reduces scan time and improves diagnosis.

Currently in use in several hospitals around the world, the MRI-MARCB system overcomes one of the principal problems in producing MR images of the brain and heart: movement.

“Though MRI is an excellent non-intrusive imaging modality with excellent soft tissue contrast it is susceptible to motion because it can take several seconds or even minutes to acquire an image,” explains Kay Nehrke at Philips Medical Systems in Germany, coordinator of this IST-programme funded project. “During that time the patient’s heart is beating and they’re breathing – it’s like taking a photo of a moving object. If the photo takes one second the image will appear blurry. If you follow the object with the camera, however, you’ll get a clear image and that is what we’ve done in a sense.”

The project partners used two different but complimentary techniques to overcome the motion problem. In the case of heart scans a software system was developed to create a mathematical model of the pattern of movement caused by breathing and heart beat. That information is then used to compensate for the motion effects in the resulting MR image. For brain scans, where even the slightest movement of a patient’s head could cause images to be unusable, a camera system was employed alongside the software to track and compensate for motion.

“Without compensation images can be filled with artefacts, making it hard to tell whether you are looking at a clogged artery or just a poor image,” Nehrke says.

With the MRI-MARCB system image quality is greatly improved resulting in more precise diagnosis, while at the same time reducing the time it takes to perform an MRI scan.

“Trials at 10 hospitals with around 200 patients showed a 30 per cent reduction in scan time because of the compensation for movement,” Nehrke notes. “As we all know time is money so this offers important cost savings for hospitals, while patients feel more comfortable because they do not have to worry so much about not moving or even breathing.”

According to the project coordinator, the software can be easily integrated into existing MRI platforms, and the camera system is “relatively inexpensive given the advantages it provides.”

MRI-MARCB is currently being used at hospitals in Germany, Denmark, Japan and the United States, with the project partners planning further commercialisation activities and development in the future.

Explore further: MRI-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound therapy for uterine fibroids has potential

Related Stories

MRI-powered mini-robots could offer targeted treatment

March 7, 2017

Invasive surgical techniques - cutting through the breastbone for open heart surgery or making a large incision to inspect an abdominal tumor - allow physicians to effectively treat disease but can lead to sometimes serious ...

Ultrasound scalpel destroys liver tumors

March 1, 2017

Focused ultrasound can effectively destroy tumor cells. Until now, this method has only been used for organs such as the prostate and uterus. At the European Congress of Radiology, Fraunhofer researchers will present a method, ...

Recommended for you

Study into who is least afraid of death

March 24, 2017

A new study examines all robust, available data on how fearful we are of what happens once we shuffle off this mortal coil. They find that atheists are among those least afraid of dying... and, perhaps not surprisingly, ...

Controlling ice formation

March 24, 2017

(Phys.org)—Researchers have demonstrated that ice crystals will grow along straight lines in a controlled way on microgrooved surfaces. Compared to the random formation of ice crystals on smooth surfaces, the ice on the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.