The technology, dubbed “compressed sensing”, is being implemented by Siemens to reduce long scan times while maintaining high diagnostic quality and was cleared for clinical use by the FDA in February, according to the report.
Scan times can be reduced to as little as 25 seconds with the technology, down significantly from an average of 4 minutes or more with conventional devices. The technology also allows patients to freely breathe during the scans, an improvement from existing technologies which may require a patient to hold their breath for as many as 7 to 12 times during the scan, Rice reports.
Researchers are hopeful that future developments could open up MRI scans to patients with labored breathing who were previously excused from abdominal MRIs due to their inability to hold their breath over long periods.
“MRI machines currently use mathematical technology developed in the 1930s, and scans can take up to 45 minutes and require patients to hold completely still during that time, something that is especially difficult for very sick or very young patients. This technology will be a game-changer for MRI scanners, especially when it comes to serving patients whose age or health prevents them from holding their breath or being completely still for extended periods of time. The technology will also benefit cardiac patients. Previously, low diagnostic quality prevented these patient subsets from realizing any benefit from cardiac MRI, but the technology enables the entire cardiac cycle to be recorded in real time with only one breath-hold,” device developer Richard Baraniuk of Rice University said in a press release.
Engineers on the project said the technology could also be applied to other imaging platforms, including nonlinear optical microscopy, with other potential applications in radar and for security purposes.
“It’s great to see an idea go from theory to practice in a way that makes life better for patients around the world,” device development heads Baraniuk and Victor Cameron said in a joint statement.
Earlier this month, Siemens Healthineers said it won FDA 510(k) clearance for the first seven-tesla MRI system approved for the U.S market, the Magnetom Terra system.