MRI with lower magnetic field for cardiac and lung imaging
National Institutes of Health researchers, along with researchers at Siemens, have developed a high-performance, low magnetic-field MRI system that vastly improves image quality of the lungs and other internal structures of the human body. The new system is more compatible with interventional devices that could greatly enhance image-guided procedures that diagnose and treat disease, and the system makes medical imaging more affordable and accessible for patients.
The low-field MRI system may also be safer for patients with pacemakers or defibrillators, quieter, and easier to maintain and install. The trend in recent years has been to develop MRI systems with higher magnetic field strengths to produce clearer images of the brain. But, researchers calculated that using those same state-of-the-art systems — at a modified strength — might offer high quality imaging of the heart and lungs. They found that metal devices such as interventional cardiology tools that were once at risk of heating with the high-field system were now safe for real-time, image-guided procedures such as heart catherization.
“We continue to explore how MRI can be optimized for diagnostic and therapeutic applications,” said Robert Balaban, Ph.D., scientific director of the Division of Intramural Research and chief of the Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics at NHLBI. “The system reduces the risk of heating — a major barrier to the use of MRI-guided therapeutic approaches that have hampered the imaging field for decades.”
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