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Portable MR almost on par with stationary systems for stroke detection

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | April 27, 2022
MRI Stroke
Portable MR is almost as efficient as stationary systems in detecting stroke.
Portable MR systems are nearly as efficient for diagnosing stroke as stationary MR systems.

They are also effective at differentiating ischemic strokes from ones caused by blood clots, according to Yale and Harvard researchers who used portable MR to successfully identify such cases in 90% of patients scanned.

Determining the type of stroke a patient has is crucial for choosing the right treatment, as blood thinners are essential for those with ischemic strokes but dangerous for patients with ones where the bleeding is in the brain. Portable MR can bring care right to the patient’s bedside, in ambulances or in remote clinics. It also decreases waiting for scans with stationary MR, which are in high demand and often in use.

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As a result, the scientists say that it may ensure faster decision-making and delivery for treatment in remote areas where patients lack access to major hospitals with standard MR systems. “This is the first systematic evidence you can detect ischemic strokes using portable, bedside devices,” said Kevin Sheth, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Yale School of Medicine and co-corresponding author of the study.

Sheth and his peers used portable MR scanners on 50 patients at Yale New Haven Hospital and found they largely confirmed cases of ischemic stroke that were diagnosed by stationary MRs. For 45 of these patients, it detected blood clots as small as four millimeters in size.

The team used Swoop, a portable MR scanner developed by Yale New Haven and Hyperfine. The solution is equipped with a 0.064 magnet and is 20 times cheaper, 10 times lighter and consumes 35 times less power than fixed conventional MR solutions, according to Hyperfine. It made its debut in 2019 at RSNA and received FDA clearance a year later in December 2020.

It is designed to bring MR to parts of the world lacking access, as well as fragile patients who cannot move from the bedside. This includes for stroke, as evidenced by a study last summer at Yale New Haven where Sheath and his colleagues used the solution to assess 144 patients and compared the results to those of traditional neuroimaging solutions.

Swoop was used specifically to scan the brains of patients at their bedside. With it, neuroradiologists were able to identify 80% of intracerebral hemorrhages in images, making the study the first to validate the ability of portable MR to show the clinical issues and risks of a brain hemorrhage.
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Steven Ford

clarification on Swoop

May 04, 2022 11:43

The Swoop MRI is 0.064 Tesla field strength, not 0.64 Tesla; you repeated the same mistake made in another article.
I think a lot of readers would like to see a link to the studies that are cited. Some of those studies, reported in DotMed, compared the Swoop mobile to a Swoop fixed-site MRI, which is useful data but still comparing a very unusual MRI to itself, except not in a van, which is not the same as comparing to a 'conventional' fixed MRI.
It would be instructive to hear from doctors who are experts in stroke care to see whether or not this scanner is adequate for their needs, or if they would use it interchangeably with a high-field scanner, or if this is a 'better than nothing' device. Reportedly, the resolution of the machine is around 4mm in-plane, and of course a high-field scanner would typically be set to scan for strokes at about 0.5 mm in-plane. So, the scanner is 1/8 the resolution and 1/48 the magnet strength of a conventional scanner. The Swoop also does not have the ability to perform all the types of scans that a 'regular' MRI does, nor can it image in any chosen plane.
There are important reasons why high-field MRI has won out over the older low-field magnets that were tried years ago. In the USA, there is little demand for a low-quality low-versatility MRI, especially for Neuro work and especially when the reimbursement is identical to far more capable scanners.

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John R. Fischer

re: clarification on Swoop

May 05, 2022 03:52

Hi Steven,

Apologies for the error and thank you for pointing it out. I have made the correction and updated the article.

We appreciate your feedback and will definitely keep it in mind going forward.

John R. Fischer

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