New Fast Field Cycling scanner ‘like 100 MRIs in one’

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Patients in Scotland have become the first in the world to use a new scanner which has been likened to “100 MRIs in one”.

A team of researchers at the University of Aberdeen have scanned the first set of patients with their prototype Fast Field Cycling MRI scanner.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses strong magnetic fields and radiowaves to produce detailed images of inside a patient’s body.

The new scanner can extract more information than a traditional MRI machine by switching the strength of the magnetic field during the scanning procedure, researchers said.

Research group leader, Professor David Lurie, said “Because Fast Field Cycling scanners can switch their magnetic field, it is almost like having 100 different MRI scanners in one.

“This gives an extra dimension to the data collected from each patient, greatly expanding the diagnostic potential.

“It is incredibly exciting to have imaged our first patients. This is a major step towards our technology being adopted by hospitals to benefit patients, which is the ultimate goal of our research.”

The University of Aberdeen has a proud history with MRI machines – in the 1970s a research team from the university built the first full body-MRI scanner and used it to obtain the first clinically useful image of a patient.

These devices are now used in hospitals across the globe.

Fast Field Cycling scanners have been under development for the last 10 years.

Now the first-ever patients have been scanned with the next generation scanner.

The prototype has been used to image the brains of patients who have recently suffered from a stroke, who are taking part in the so-called Puffins trial.

Researchers hope that additional information from the scanner will help doctors see the stroke-affected part of the brain more precisely, which could help with treatment and recovery plans.

Dr Mary Joan MacLeod, lead for the trial, added: “Treatments for stroke have to be given very early to be effective, and the CT scans patients currently undergo on admission to hospital give us limited information to help plan that treatment.

“The Fast Field Cycling scanner has great potential, because it might give more accurate ‘real time’ information on what is happening in the brain tissue, helping to direct treatment.”

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