A new MRI technique could allow physicians to more accurately examine brain scans, according to an MIT News report.
Researchers at MIT, working with physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital and other institutions, have developed a way to boost the quality of the brain scans so that they can be used for large-scale studies on the effects of stroke and treatment responses, according to the report.
The scans could help researchers discover how genetic factors influence stroke survival, as well as serving as a new approach to understanding disorders such as Alzheimers, MIT News reported.
The new scanning approach involves filling in missing data from each patient scan by examining a large number of scans and using them to recreate anatomical features missing form other scans. Once the higher-quality images are generated, researchers can use a set of algorithms to help analyze anatomical features, according to the report.
“The key idea is to generate an image that is anatomically plausible, and to an algorithm looks like one of those research scans, and is completely consistent with clinical images that were acquired. Once you have that, you can apply every state-of-the-art algorithm that was developed for the beautiful research images and run the same analysis, and get the results as if these were the research images,” senior author & MIT Professor Polina Golland said, according to the report.
During the process, the algorithm can track which pixels emerged from the original scans and which were filled so that analysis, such as monitoring brain damage extents, can be done using only the original scans.
The development team said they plan to apply the new technique to a large set of stroke images including approximately 4,000 scans from 12 hospitals. The researchers also hope to apply the technique to scans of other brain disorders, according to the report.
“These research studies are very small because you need volunteers, but hospitals have hundreds of thousands of images. Our motivation was to take advantage of this huge set of data,” lead author & MIT postdoc Adrian Dalca said.
Research in the study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
“Understanding spatial patterns of the damage that is done to the white matter promises to help us understand in more detail how the disease interacts with cognitive abilities of the person, with their ability to recover from stroke, and so on. It opens up lots of interesting directions. Images acquired in routine medical practice can give anatomical insight, because we lift them up to that quality that the algorithms can analyze,” Golland said.