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Ultrafast MR helps diagnose stroke.

New magnetic resonance (MR) technology can reduce brain imaging time in stroke patients from 20 minutes to 3 minutes while maintaining accuracy, according to a preliminary study.

Rapid diagnosis is important for patients who suffer a stroke because administration of clot-busting drugs must begin within 3 hours after stroke onset for the treatment to be successful. Computed tomography (CT), the usual method for diagnosing strokes, takes only a few minutes, compared with 20 minutes for conventional MR. However, unlike MR, CT does not identify parts of the brain that are at risk of damage.

Researchers created a 3-minute MR protocol using new multichannel, phased-array brain coils, which can produce the same number of images in a fraction of the time. They compared the new technique with conventional MR in 24 patients with a clinical diagnosis of stroke. Overall, the 2 protocols were comparable in image quality and diagnostic results.

Two of the 3-minute protocol images were of better quality than the conventional images because the faster imaging eliminated complications from patient movement, according to researchers. The 3-minute protocol also correctly identified blockages for treatment with clot-busting drugs.

"The 3-minute head scan is as good as the 20-minute version and in some instances better because stroke patients may be distressed and move around," said study author Jonathan H. Gillard, M.D., from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, and colleagues. "Pictures taken in a shorter period of time are less susceptible to degradation from the patient moving during the scan." Dr. Gillard presented the findings on December 1 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

Dr. Gillard said that the ultrafast imaging technology has potential to become a useful triage tool before administering clot-busting drugs and may benefit patients unable to tolerate longer sequences.

"The conventional 20-minute MR may be distressing for patients who are already agitated by stroke symptoms, such as a weak arm or leg or a speech deficit," said Dr. Gillard. "Despite the machine noise and possible claustrophobia, agitated patients are more likely to remain still during a quick procedure than a lengthy one."

Research & Technology showcases the latest findings of research as wall as industry news in the radiologic sciences. Health and research organizations and commercial interests should send information to Managing Editor Kathryn Faguy, c/o The American Society of Radiologic Technologists, 15000 Central Ave. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123-3917.

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Title Annotation:Research And Technology
Publication:Radiologic Technology
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Words:400
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