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Desk-sized MR scanner tackles arthritis

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Assessment with MR is essential for the early detection of rheumatoid arthritis in the hands and the monitoring of drug therapy, but hand studies are not cost-effective. That's where the Japanese firm MR Technology of Tsukuba, in the prefecture of Ibaraki, comes in.

 

Assessment with MR is essential for the early detection of rheumatoid arthritis in the hands and the monitoring of drug therapy, but hand studies are not cost-effective. That's where the Japanese firm MR Technology of Tsukuba, in the prefecture of Ibaraki, comes in.

The company, working with the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Tsukuba, has developed a compact whole-hand MRI system using a 0.3T permanent magnet with a 16-cm gap. The scanner, with a 1.5 × 2-m footprint, produces an ellipsoidal imaging space covering 22 × 22 × 8 cm.

In a session at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine meeting in May, the research team presented clinical experience with the scanner. Exams visualizing the whole hand were accomplished in six minutes.

Images included a fat-suppressed 2D scan obtained with a STIR-3D-FSE sequence acquired in less than 11 minutes.

A 3D maximum intensity projection image reconstructed from the fat-suppressed 3D image data set showed suppression of the bone marrow fat signal while visualizing long T2-weighted data returned by joint fluid and blood.

The researchers concluded that the system has potential to be used for whole-hand examinations to assess patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

-By Greg Freiherr

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