New diagnostic frontiers for MR imaging

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | November 11, 2019
From the November 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

For the study, the UCLA researchers had 300 men undergo MR exams, and prostate lesions were detected in 248 of them. However, after the remaining 52 men underwent ultrasound biopsies, it was revealed that 15 percent of them had cancer.

This shows that while MR is useful, it cannot be the only modality used. The researchers concluded that patients should receive an MR exam before the biopsy, but that if no cancer is found in men at high risk then they should still receive an ultrasound biopsy.

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The value of 7T MR
7 Tesla MR is undoubtedly a very powerful MR machine, but research is needed to figure out where it shines the most. A couple of studies published in mid-2019 suggest that 7T might be valuable for evaluating MS progression.

Researchers at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital are finding that 7T MR allows them to better see cortical lesions in the gray matter of the brain’s outer layer. According to them, that is a strong predictor of the degree of neurological disability among MS patients.

Axial 7T T2-weighted images show examples of leukocortical lesions (white arrows) and intracortical lesions (black arrows) along with juxtacortical and periventricular white matter lesions in different patients with MS. Credit: Radiological Society of North America
“The 7T is a robust and powerful machine, with unprecedented capabilities and there is no doubt that, for certain aspects of the disease, especially for assessing lesions in the cortex, it would be the ideal imaging modality in clinic,” said Dr. Caterina Mainero, director of MS research at the center.

White matter lesions have traditionally been the basis of measuring the profession of disability in MS patients, but 7T revealed that the gray matter is a more reliable predictor. Because of that, the researchers are advocating for cortical lesions assessments to become a staple when evaluating MS progression.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has also been looking into the use of 7T MR for evaluating MS. They found that MR can detect a severe type of MS based on the presence of dark-rimmed marks called chronic active lesions.

These lesions are invisible on standard MR scans with gadolinium so they have been neglected by radiologists and neurologists for a long time. But in the last decade, research groups have worked hard to change that.

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