One of the most prominent cases that medical establishments have today when tending to the daily influxes of patients is the rise in rates of lung disease.
Over the past few years, the rates of hospital visits for cases of pneumonia, bronchitis, lung cancer, tuberculosis, and other related conditions have shot up, making them a greater concern for hospitals and clinics. Fortunately, the field of medicine has paved the way for cutting-edge treatments that can be used to effectively manage diseases of such nature, especially when it comes to lung disease imaging with top-grade MRI scanners.
Medical imaging in the context of lung diseases (and a new iteration worth watching out for)
Today, the field of medicine has made it a point to emphasize that effective lung disease treatments begin with proper imaging because of how well it helps with establishing the right approach to treatment.
While more minor conditions can be remedied through medicine and consultations, the detailed nature of more aggressive or severe conditions requires a level of insight that accurately detects what issue is at hand. This is why medical professionals have become adamant about using MRI scanners when dealing with lung disease patients regardless of whatever they may have.
As medical imaging technology itself continues to advance, thanks to the persistent efforts of manufacturers, there are newer iterations of the scanner that come to bear even bigger impacts on treatment experiences. Among the different newer types of tools, there’s one type of option that’s going to be especially helpful for lung disease imaging: low-field MRI.
What are they, and what makes them so special?
The main defining factor of low-field strength MRI scanners is that they operate at a level of 0.55 tesla, making them an effective alternative to CT scanning for imaging various examples of lung disease.
While the difference may seem negligible to the uninitiated, the no-radiation nature of the scanners is a desirable outcome because of how lung conditions require repeat imaging. This means that susceptible patients looking to find answers for their condition won’t have to expose themselves to the risks of contracting long-term complications due to continuous exposure.
According to the team of Dr. Adrienne Campbell-Washburn, Ph.D. in their study titled Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging, the promise of low-field-strength MRI scanners in providing a much better treatment experience is significant. On the topic of benefits, the group writes: “[MRI] is advantageous over CT because it is free from ionizing radiation, which makes it especially attractive for repeated lung imaging and pediatric imaging.”
Compared to standard CT scanning, MRI offers the benefit of soft-tissue characterization with T1 and T2 image weighting—only limited by the fact it produces images with lower spatial resolution. However, the complications of low-resolution images commonly associated with the piece of equipment in question can be effectively counteracted with a low-field strength system.
Using a prototype system that consists of a closed-bore 0.55-tesla superconducting magnet, the team of Dr. Campbell-Washburn was able to further dissect what could be the future of effective no-radiation imaging. Such a sentiment is rooted in the fact that the technology produces “superior field homogeneity compared with contemporary clinical MRI systems (1.5-tesla and 3-tesla) and most implementations of low-field-strength MRI systems.”
By working with a scanner that runs on 0.55-tesla, low-field strength MRIs can take care of a parenchymal T2 in approximately 10 msec—a significant development compared with T2 of less than two msec at 1.5-tesla.” Based on these findings, the authors state that “this improved field homogeneity and prolonged T2 can be exploited to reduce susceptibility artifacts in the lung parenchyma on MR images, making it valuable for efficient sequence design.
Out of all the different developments that have taken place in the field of medical imaging over the years, low-field strength MRI scanners come bearing the most potential. This is especially true when it comes to diagnosing lung disease. Through this piece of equipment, the future of medical treatment spells much hope in terms of being both effective and radiation-free without unwanted forms of compromise!
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