Getting an MRI scan in the typical whole-body machine can be an uncomfortable and inconvenient experience. You’re maneuvered on a table into a small cave-like chamber, and because the equipment itself weighs a lot and takes up so much space, often only larger hospitals and imaging facilities have the space and funds to house full sized MRI machines.
But scientists and clinicians are taking another step towards developing smaller, more mobile machines. Building and testing a prototype for a streamlined machine for brain scanning is the objective of a new collaboration between GE Global Research engineers and Mayo Clinicresearchers, announced today, thanks to a five-year, $5.7 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In addition to being lighter, the planned prototype device is expected to be one-third the size of comparable whole-body MRI scanners, and GE and Mayo researchers also plan to add state-of-the-art image analysis tools, which will make the job easier for clinicians and doctors who make vital diagnoses based on brain scans.
“The development of a head only MRI system can address 25-30% of all MR imaging procedures today,” said Jim Davis, General Manager of GE Healthcare’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging business. “Research in this area brings benefits of lower total costs, better image quality, greater patient comfort, and makes this a very attractive opportunity for collaboration.”
A dedicated MRI brain scanners could be used for a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, traumatic brain disorder (TBI), depression, and autism.
The project is one part of GE’s Healthymagination initiative to reduce costs, improve quality and expand access to healthcare worldwide.