Ultra-high field MRI boosts breast tumor detection, Parkinson's diagnosis

Two new studies are showing the advantages that 7-Tesla (7-T) ultra-high-field magnetic resonance imaging can provide in certain clinical applications.

In one study published recently in the journal European Radiology, scientists at the MedUni Vienna demonstrated that 7-T MRI could be used for a more accurate diagnosis of breast cancer. "The higher signal available with 7-T permits a higher resolution, allowing fine details to be visualized better and a more certain diagnosis to be made," Katja Pinker of the University Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at MedUni Vienna said in a statement. "Diagnosis at molecular and metabolic level is also possible with diffusion-weighted or sodium imaging and spectroscopy, helping us to characterize tumors even more effectively."

The scanner allowed for diagnostic accuracy of 96.6 percent according to Pinker, compared with 93 percent diagnostic accuracy provided by current standard MRI scans using a 3-Tesla device.

According to the researchers, while the clinical use of 7-T MRI for diagnosing breast tumors is possible immediately, the problem is that there are comparatively few of these scanners currently in use around the world.

Another study in Radiology has shows that 7-T MRI provides highly-detailed views of the part of the brain implicated in Parkinson's disease, which could lead to earlier detection of the condition.

In this study, Mirco Cosottini, M.D., of the University of Pisa in Italy, and colleagues studied the brains--specifically the part of the brain called the substantia nigra--of 17 Parkinson's disease patients and 21 health controls, as well as brain specimen from a deceased individual. Parkinson's results from a loss of dopamine-producing cells located in the substantia nigra.

Using scanner, the researchers found substantial abnormalities in the substantia nigra in patients with Parkinson's and were able to correctly classify patients with the disease with a sensitivity of 100 percent and 96.2 percent.

"Parkinson's disease diagnosis remains clinically based, but with the introduction of 7-T MRI into clinical practice, a supporting radiologic diagnosis can be made," Cosottini said in an statement.

To learn more:
- read about the study from MedUni Vienna
- see the study in Radiology
- here's the accompanying announcement for the Radiology study

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