By Dominic V. Cassidy
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen have developed a new, more powerful MRI scanner.
After ten years of research and development, patients in Scotland are now becoming the first in the world to be scanned by the new and very powerful Fast Field Cycling MRI Scanner, developed by scientists at the University of Aberdeen.
With a normal MRI machine, radio and magnetic waves are used to gather an image of a patient’s body and to help identify potential ailments. Here we have lead researcher, Prof. David Lurie, speaking on the difference between a regular MRI machine and the new Fast Field Cycling MRI machines:
“In a FFC MRI scanner the principal is the same but our scanner can switch to many different values of magnetic fields, a hundred different values.”
This means that those looking at the results will have extra dimensions of information at their disposal, putting them in a better position to help the patient.
The machine has been used on patients twice so far, with 30 prospective patients, all of whom have suffered strokes. While the prototype device has only been tested twice so far, the results, while scant, are promising:
“It’s really too early to give any definitive results as we’ve only scanned two out of thirty patients, but the images we got were good, we’ll really have to wait until we’ve got all thirty patients imaged before we can reach any definitive conclusions, but the early images are positive”
As for the future of the researchers at Aberdeen, they have secured funding from the European Union as part of a project called Identify of which they are a lead partner. The international group works together to improve the technology available to scan patients, and to help identify signals related to illness.
The group also carries the aim of bringing Fast Field Cycling machines to the world at large, with the hope of the scanners being a reality in hospitals around the world in the next five to ten years.