The evolution of MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields to generate images of the organs of the body. MRI does not involve the use of ionizing radiation, like x-rays or CT or gamma radiation as with PET. One of MRI’s great strengths is its ability to distinguish normal from abnormal tissue.

Invented in the early 80s, the field of MRI has been constantly innovated ever since. In fact, every year there are thousands of research papers and clinical studies that are published in an effort to expand the scope of MRI to diagnose more diseases, more confidently than ever before.

This innovation has led to the creation of new hardware to acquire images, new sequences to create the images and new tools to analyze the images. A useful analogy for the rapid progression of MRI is the rapid improvements in the camera on your mobile phone. In the early 2000s it was possible to take low-resolution black and white photos on a top of the line Nokia phone. Today you can take stunning high resolution photos with a broad range of interesting filters and techniques on the latest iPhone. The same sort of innovation also happened in the world of MRI.

More comfortable, faster, more accurate, fewer false positives

The most noticeable innovation in modern MRIs is that they have become much more comfortable and acquire the images much faster. Early MRIs were likened to a narrow coffin and it was not unusual to feel claustrophobic during the procedure. Today, MRI machines are typically much wider and quite short, allowing your head to be outside the MRI machine for more of the procedure, greatly reducing the concern of claustrophobia.

Less noticeable to patients are the new software packages that determine how the MRI scanners operate. Early MRI machines took low resolution grey scale images which were able to find features in a patient's bodies that radiologists could determine were abnormal. It was difficult, however, to determine if the abnormality was benign or cancerous. This led to a concern of causing further imaging, biopsy, or surgery for benign conditions. Today new MRI sequences are available that enable radiologists to more confidently differentiate benign from malignant.

See how we perform for cancer Screening cancer
 
 

Growing list of conditions that MRI can diagnose

MRI has moved beyond simply seeing structures, also known as anatomical imaging. New techniques have become available to identify conditions that tell us how the organ works, termed functional imaging. Radiologists can now routinely diagnose conditions such as dementia, irregular vascular flow and tumor response to treatment using MRI, and we expect the list of conditions that a Prenuvo scan will cover to continue to grow into the future.

See the diseases we cover Disease coverage

Introducing Prenuvo whole-body diffusion weighted imaging

The images that are acquired with an advanced MRI are vastly more comprehensive than through a traditional MRI. Over the course of a one-hour evaluation over 180M datapoints can be collected of your body. In that time we image the body with 19 different tissue weights or filters.

An advanced whole body MRI differs from traditional whole body MRI in that they collect approximately 10x the number of images at higher resolution. The greater the number of images and the better the quality, give the ability to diagnose and differentiate more medical conditions.

See the images we acquire Images acquired
 

Introducing Prenuvo full-body diffusion weighted imaging

The cancer detector exclusive to Prenuvo and its clinics

At Prenuvo, the single biggest evolution in our rate of detection and accuracy of detection has been the mastering of whole body three-dimensional diffusion-weighted imaging.

Dr Raj Attariwala MD

One of the keys to differentiating an advanced MRI from a traditional MRI is a sequence known as diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI). This is a sequence which has its performance closely linked to the quality of the MRI scanner. DWI has been the subject of thousands of academic papers, but until recently it had little utilization outside of the brain. Our belief is that DWI is critical to differentiating benign and malignant lesions inside the body.

You may have heard the expression that the human body is 60% water. This is actually true, and is even higher in young children (80%). Much of this water is not inside our cells, It is between the cells in our body (extracellular).

DWI is a complex sequence (with some equally complex mathematics) that measures the extent to which this water is free to move around inside our bodies. Parts of the body where fluid is under pressure, such as the brain or the spinal cord show as dark areas on these images.

Solid masses (of which malignant tumors are one possibility) tend to be packed tightly together as they are growing uncontrollably. This means that the water in-between those cells tends to be packed more closely than you would usually expect to see.

Without imaging, the primary means of detecting a mass is by feeling for a hard lump. Consider how we detect breast, prostate and neck masses. In all of these areas the doctor will do it by feeling for the abnormality. This is a simplified way of thinking of DWI; as a more sensitive lump detector for the entire body, capable of seeing a mass less than a centimeter (half an inch) in size.

One of the keys to differentiating an advanced MRI from a traditional MRI is a sequence known as diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI). This is a sequence which has its performance closely linked to the quality of the MRI scanner. DWI has been the subject of thousands of academic papers, but until recently it had little utilization outside of the brain. Our belief is that DWI is critical to differentiating benign and malignant lesions inside the body.

You may have heard the expression that the human body is 60% water. This is actually true, and is even higher in young children (80%). Much of this water is not inside our cells, It is between the cells in our body (extracellular).

DWI is a complex sequence (with some equally complex mathematics) that measures the extent to which this water is free to move around inside our bodies. Parts of the body where fluid is under pressure, such as the brain or the spinal cord show as dark areas on these images.

Solid masses (of which malignant tumors are one possibility) tend to be packed tightly together as they are growing uncontrollably. This means that the water in-between those cells tends to be packed more closely than you would usually expect to see.

Without imaging, the primary means of detecting a mass is by feeling for a hard lump. Consider how we detect breast, prostate and neck masses. In all of these areas the doctor will do it by feeling for the abnormality. This is a simplified way of thinking of DWI; as a more sensitive lump detector for the entire body, capable of seeing a mass less than a centimeter (half an inch) in size.