A magnetic resonance imager uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to create images of the body's tissues and structures. Magnetic resonance fingerprinting, MRF for short, can obtain much more information with each measurement than a traditional MRI.
Griswold likens the difference in technologies to a pair of choirs.
"In the traditional MRI, everyone is singing the same song and you can tell who is singing louder, who is off-pitch, who is singing softer," he said. "But that's about it."
The louder, softer and off-pitch singing is represented by dark, light or bright spots in the scan that a radiologist must interpret. For example, an MRI would show swelling as a bright area in an image. But brightness doesn't necessarily equate with severity or cause.
"With an MRF," Griswold said, "we hope that with one step we can tell the severity and exactly what's happening in that area."
The fingerprint of each tissue, each disease and each material inside the body is therefore a different song. In an MRF, each member of the choir sings a different song simultaneously, Griswold said. "What it sounds like in total is a randomized mess."
The researchers generate unique songs by simultaneously varying different parts of the input electromagnetic fields that probe the tissues. These variations make the received signal sensitive to four physical properties that vary from tissue to tissue. These differencesthe different notes and lyrics of their songsbecome evident when applying pattern recognition programs using the same math in facial recognition software.
The patterns are then charted. Instead of looking at relative measurements from an image, Griswold said quantitative estimates told one tissue from another. As the technology progresses, these results will determine whether tissue is healthy or diseased, how badly and by what.
The scientists believe that they will be able to interrogat
|Contact: Kevin Mayhood|
Case Western Reserve University