Claustrophobia, meet arachnophobia

May 1, 2007

MRI can be daunting enough for claustrophobic patients. But now arachnophobia may be a good reason to fear entering the tube. Researchers have begun studying large eight-legged creatures with clinical MR systems (Magn Reson Imaging 2007;25:129-135).

MRI can be daunting enough for claustrophobic patients. But now arachnophobia may be a good reason to fear entering the tube. Researchers have begun studying large eight-legged creatures with clinical MR systems (Magn Reson Imaging 2007;25:129-135).

Investigators at Johannes Gutenberg University Hospital in Mainz, Germany, examined three tarantulas (Eurypelma californicum) on a whole-body 1.5T unit equipped with a finger coil. The arthropods, common inhabitants of the U.S. South-west, were cooled for safe handling, rather than anesthetized, and partially embedded in a foam mold.

Spin-echo sequences showed the shape, size, and position of the tarantulas' major organs. This information is difficult to acquire with invasive techniques. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI revealed the spider's complex circulation system.

Such good results make a dedicated high-field animal scanner unnecessary for spider MRI, the team concluded. So in departments where scanner time is split between clinic appointments and research, patients had perhaps better check under the couch before lying down.