MRI Scans: What’s New

MRI Scans have long been a standard method for Oncologists to search for abnormal tissues and tumours.

Despite CT scans often being considered as far more accurate in terms of diagnosing many forms of cancer, MRI scans are still relied on a day-to-day basis by professionals around the world to inspect otherwise inaccessible regions of the body such as the brain, spinal cord, bones and blood vessels. Regardless of how useful this machine is to modern healthcare there are still ways that we can improve how we use this technology.

This month a number of stories have emerged highlighting how improved vigilance and focused innovation can help us avoid making errors in the future and increase our methods of diagnosis when using this valuable piece of equipment:

Patients in Wales are ‘too big’ for MRI Scanners

At what point do we start building¬†larger MRI scanners to accommodate for obese patients? In a recent study concluded by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board it was found that over 200 scans have had to be cancelled since 2014 due to patients being ‘too big’ to fit into MRI Scans.

Although this story has (rather predictably) been picked up by the tabloids as a form of click-bait it’s important for us to look past the sensationalist responses and put consideration into how to respond to this problem. After all, obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the country with 28.1% of the country being classed as obese.

A man in India dies after MRI accident

Rajesh Maru, 32, was invited to enter a room to visit a relative undergoing a routine MRI scan in a state-run hospital in Mumbai. He was allowed to enter the room with an oxygen cylinder in his hand which was pulled violently towards the machine along with Mr. Maru. The impact of the cylinder against the machine caused a leak of liquid oxygen which the visitor inhaled which led to his death soon after.

It might be easy to dismiss this case as another example of lax health and safety in a developing country, but this kind of accident can all too easily occur – in fact a similar incident led to the death of a young boy in New York in 2001. This should serve as a wake-up call to practitioners at all responsibility levels.

Erasable MRI Scans could improve diagnoses

As many radiation oncologists will know, the use of contrast agents to make scans easier to read can be both a blessing and a curse. These magnetic dyes, administered orally or directly into the blood stream, can help oncologists identify tumours with greater accuracy but they can often be difficult to distinguish from normal body tissues damaging the efficacy of the process.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have been working on the development of ‘erasable’ contrast agents which should allow technicians to ‘turn off’ contrasting agents through the use of ultrasound. Mikhail Shapiro, assistant on the project, is hoping that this advancement will lead to contrast agents becoming far more visible in scans thus reducing false-positive results and other misdiagnoses.

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