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Radiologists configure MR to find bone and brain metastases in 7 minutes

by John W. Mitchell , Senior Correspondent
Researchers at UT Southwestern have successfully tested a new imaging technique to help the 40 percent of advanced breast, lung, and kidney cancer patients who develop painful bone and brain metastases. The study team reported the technique, DETECT, offers the fastest metastasis scan technique to date and is much quicker than a traditional MR.

“Compared to the existing modalities, this magnetic resonance imaging-based technique provides images without exposing the patients to potentially harmful X-rays or ionizing radiation," Ananth Madhuranthakam, Ph.D., assistant professor of Radiology and co-leader of the study told HCB News. "This technique can provide robust images without image distortions, in faster scan times.”

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Bone metastases in cancer patients can be particularly problematic, causing painful breaks. In the event of spinal metastases, paralysis can occur. DETECT imaging spotted 30 percent more metastases. Patients also were not required to return for repeat imaging sessions, as is often required under current protocols. The findings were made using a test group of five volunteers and five patients with metastatic kidney disease.

The team’s findings were just published in Magnetic Imaging in Medicine. A dual-echo T2-weighted MR system, which completes a full-body scan in seven minutes, made the initial proof of concept findings. According to Madhuranthakam, the team modified the MR scanner to achieve optimization for fluid and fat attenuation, to improve metastasis images. Bone metastases in cancer patients can be particularly problematic, causing painful breaks. A spinal metastasis can result in paralysis.

“For patients, DETECT can provide accurate diagnosis of lesions throughout the body. Specifically, for the bone metastases, DETECT has the potential to identify these lesions, early on, before they weaken the bones and cause bone fractures,” Madhuranthakam said. “For physicians, DETECT has the potential to identify the lesions more accurately, as well as localize them more precisely. This increases confidence in identifying the lesions, as well as treating them with appropriate interventions to reduce the risk of complications and improve quality of life.

To validate the findings, a large-scale study with more patients is underway. The technique would be programmed into MR scanners by manufacturers in order to be offered on a wide-scale basis to other hospitals. The study was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

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Alex Dresner

Nice article, but please correct the author's name

March 01, 2018 10:02

I enjoyed this article about my friend Ananth and his institution's work. Please correct the spelling of his surname to Madhuranthakam.

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Gus Iversen

re: Nice article, but please correct the author's name

March 01, 2018 12:22

Alex, thank you for pointing this out. We have corrected the error.

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