World’s first portable MRI machine detects if patients are having strokes

Date:31 August 2021 Author: Leigh-Ann Londt Tags:, , ,

The world’s first portable MRI machine has already proven how accurate it can be. It built its foundation on a new Yale-led study and it can be used to detect cases of strokes that will need surgical intervention.

According to New Atlas, the machine was created by a company called Hyperfine which developed the mobile alternative. Hyperfine’s MRI solution has advanced computing power to dial down the size of magnets needed, packing them into a machine that is 10 times lighter, 20 times less costly, and uses 35 times less power than the current MRI machines.

The portable MRI machine can be rolled up to a patient’s bedside, plugged into a standard power outlet and perform an MRI without additional protective equipment. In 2020, a study was put in place involving 30 patients who were hospitalised with brain abnormalities such as tumours and strokes. The system accurately detected the abnormalities in 29 of the 30 patients.

The same researchers performed another study to explore the potential of the portable MRI machine in diagnosing a stroke. Doctors who treat patients with signs of a stroke do not have much time to play around and need answers immediately. Some strokes are caused by clots that can be cleared with blood-thinning medications and others are caused by internal brain bleeding that needs surgical intervention.

The study involved 144 patients, with scientists focusing on both traditional neuroimaging scans and MRIs performed by the portable machine. Trained experts used the images as confirmation to victims of intracranial (internal bleeding) from acute ischemic strokes (blood clots), along with healthy controls, with those who rely on the portable MRI images that provide 80% accuracy.

“There is no question this device can help save lives in resource-limited settings, such as rural hospitals or developing countries,” says Kevin Sheth, co-corresponding author of the research. “There is also now a path to see how it can help in modern settings. It is of critical importance to continue to collect more data across a range of stroke characteristics so that we can maximize the potential benefit of this approach.”

The study performed by researchers was the first to use a portable MRI device that proves the appearance and the clinical implications of a brain haemorrhage. There are however more boxes that need to be ticked before Hyperfine’s machine can be clinically used.

If and when it does, it could play a great role in improving health care in unfortunate areas that have no access to brain imaging technology. The next step includes researchers planning to further explore diagnosing head trauma, brain tumours and at-risk patients who have high blood pressure.

Picture: Facebook / Hyperfine

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