Russian Scientists Managed To Increase The Effectiveness Of Breast MRI Using A Ceramic Resonator
Physicists from Russia have created a set of ceramic resonators that increase the efficiency of magnetic resonance imaging. Thanks to this, even the most modest and cheapest tomographs can be used for breast examination, according to the press service of ITMO University, referring to an article in the journal Nature Communications.
"Compared to x-ray and ultrasound, MRI can accurately localize neoplasms and make a more accurate diagnosis. Despite the advantages of this type of diagnosis, mammary gland studies using MRI are relatively rare, because there is often no suitable equipment for this, " said Alyona Shchelokova, a researcher at ITMO University and one of the authors of the article.
Magnetic resonance imaging works due to the so-called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). During operation, this device irradiates the human body with radio waves in the presence of a powerful permanent magnet. Because of this, the nuclei of hydrogen and other atoms in the body begin to "vibrate." emitting or absorbing waves of an assured frequency.
That allows you to track the position of atoms and study the structure of body tissues, measure their temperature and other properties. MRI scanners require powerful magnets based on superconductors. Therefore, these tools are quite expensive.
Scientists from Saint Petersburg have been trying to improve the operation of such devices for several years. For example, three years ago, they created special "capes" for the body from pieces of metal, which increased the contrast of the image and made it better and also created a wireless coil that receives the signal and is usually installed as close as possible to the studied organs of the patient.
Cheap amplifier for MRI
In their new work, Shchelokova and her colleagues focused their efforts on improving the accuracy of the part of the MRI that receives and transmits signals. As a rule, its role is played by a large coil – the so-called "birdcage", built into the upper part of the scanner. It is usually placed over the patient's body.
"A large tomograph coil does not allow you to get a good quality image, so small coils are used that are specific to each organ. Usually, clinics only have a standard set of modules, and the module for breast research does not belong to this set. In St. Petersburg, we found it only in one medical facility," explained Shchelokova.
Russian physicists have found a solution to this problem. Instead of a set of specialized small coils, they decided to use a semiconductor resonator. It is a hollow cylinder made of a ceramic material. Scientists have chosen its size and geometry so that it becomes excellently permeable to MRI signals.
As the researchers explain, the resonator does not produce or perceive a signal by itself, but only focuses the magnetic field from the "birdcage" on a certain organ, including the mammary gland. That allows you to either increase the image quality or reduce the power of the magnetic field that is needed to get the image of the desired quality.
This approach, according to the researchers, allows you to get as clear images as with specialized coils, but the semiconductor resonator is much cheaper than them, and also does not require connection to the scanner and the availability of such a possibility.
Scientists note that thanks to this, such signal amplifiers can be used in combination with any types of tomographs that have already been installed in Russian or foreign hospitals. Thus it will be possible to make diagnostics cheaper and more accurate. As scientists hope, their development will attract the attention of doctors and businesses and will soon penetrate medical practice.