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New Combo Brain Scanner Includes Silent MRI

July 31, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Neuroradiology
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An intriguing new combination of technologies promises not only precise mapping of the brain but also silent MRI.

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland say they’ve developed a combined MRI and magnetoencephalography (MEG) device for scanning the brain. Both imaging systems measure magnetic fields, but MEG detects fields generated by tiny intracellular electrical currents in neurons in the brain.

Obviously, detecting something so minute is a delicate task. A university news release says MRI and MEG were not previously combined because their magnetic fields interfered with one another. The new device uses extremely sensitive detectors that permit the use of low-field MRI with a magnetic field strength only a few hundred thousandths of that of standard MRI.

“We expect that the new technology will improve the accuracy of brain mapping of patients with epilepsy,” said Risto Ilmoniemi, PhD, head of the university’s department of biomedical engineering and computational science. “It may also improve the diagnosis of cancer patients because the improved image contrast may facilitate the characterization of cancer tissue.”

Dr. Ilmoniemi added:

The innovative MEG-MRI device will allow brain imaging for new patients, such as those with metal implants. Also, the silent and open device will not scare children or make people feel claustrophobic. In the future, this development can also reduce costs as images can be obtained in one session rather than two.

A silent MRI machine? That alone could be a huge advance.

Dr. Ilmoniemi this year is Academy Professor at Aalto. The Academy of Finland is a governmental body that funds scientific research at institutions and organizations around the country.

Aalto University coordinates the MRI-MEG project, which involves 13 research groups from five different countries. Aalto was formed in 2010 from the merger of the Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics, and the University of Art and Design Helsinki. It has campuses in Helsinki and Espoo.

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