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Engineering students: Headset muffles loud, unnerving MRI noises
Date:4/22/2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Having an MRI exam, an experience many people describe as stressful and uncomfortable, could soon become a bit more pleasant, thanks to the work of a team of University of Florida engineering students.

The students have designed a headset that shows promise of reducing the extremely loud, repetitive, industrial-like noises that accompany magnetic resonance image examinations. The noises, which range from beeping to whirring to grinding and can often be as loud as a jet engine, stem from the workings of the powerful magnets at the heart of the machines ability to produce sharply defined internal images of the body or body parts.

The headset would not only make the experience less off-putting, it might also reduce the number of needed exams, freeing up the machine for access by more patients, said Stephen Forguson, a senior majoring in electrical engineering.

The sound often makes patients move or wriggle a bit, he said. Unfortunately, that can blur the image, which means the operators have to redo the exam.

Forguson and Chad Dailey, Paul Norris and Christopher Ruesga, all also engineering seniors, designed the headset as part of the College of Engineerings Integrated Product and Process Design Program. The program pairs student teams with corporate or government sponsors for yearlong design projects of products or processes intended to be useful to the sponsor. The sponsor of the headset project was Invivo, a Gainesville manufacturer of magnetic coils, monitors and other MRI accessories.

With battery-operated headphones that cancel internal airplane noise or other loud noises already commercially available, muffling the noise a patient hears when inserted into the cylinder-like MRI machines might seem a small challenge.

But the problem is that no electronics are permitted within the MRI chamber because the electronics can distort or disrupt the images scanned by the machines magnets. So the
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Contact: Gijs Bosman
gbosm@ece.ufl.edu
352-392-0910
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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