A mobile magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine has been developed as an alternative to large and expensive stationary MRI machines that require a dedicated room. The new portable device compensates for the lack of powerful magnets with the help of new advances in computer technology. It is 10 times lighter, 20 times cheaper and uses 35 times less energy than a standard MRI machine.
Importantly, a portable MRI scanner can be used directly at the patient’s bedside. This speeds up the provision of care and eliminates the need to transport the patient. In a previous study, researchers from Yale University demonstrated on 30 patients that the device is capable of effectively detecting ischemic stroke and tumors. In a new work, the same research group focused on the capabilities of the new scanner in the diagnosis of hemorrhagic strokes (intracranial hemorrhages).
The study involved 144 people (54 – with intracranial hemorrhage or hemorrhagic stroke, 48 – with ischemic strokes, 40 – healthy). Scientists performed both a standard brain scan and a scan using a portable MRI machine.
The obtained images were analyzed by specialists in MRI diagnostics. From images taken with a portable scanner, they correctly diagnosed intracranial hemorrhage in 80% of cases. For 85 of the 88 remaining patients (healthy and with ischemic stroke), they indicated that they had no hemorrhage. That is, they correctly ruled out hemorrhagic stroke in 96.6% of cases.
“There is no doubt that this device can save lives in places where resources are scarce, such as rural hospitals and developing countries,” said Kevin Sheth, lead author of the study.
Research on the new device will continue. In the near future, scientists are going to test how sensitive it is in diagnosing head injuries.