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Home Industry News New polarised nuclear imaging approach ‘could have medical applications’

New polarised nuclear imaging approach ‘could have medical applications’

14th October 2016

A new approach to high-resolution imaging has been developed that combines aspects of magnetic resonance and gamma ray imaging.

Known as polarised nuclear imaging (PNI), the method was developed by the University of Virginia and uses magnetic resonance to obtain spatial information, before collecting image information by detecting gamma rays produced by an isotope of xenon Xe-131m used as a tracer material.

Since it is possible to detect a gamma ray from even a single atom, the sensitivity of the imaging process is greatly enhanced, while also greatly reducing the amount of material needed to perform magnetic resonance techniques.

Tests using a small glass cell indicated that about ten billion times more water molecules would be needed than the number of isotope atoms used to achieve the same image quality.

This new, relatively inexpensive approach could be used to visualise the gas space of the lungs by having patients inhale a gas containing the isotopes and using PNI to produce an image. It could also be used to scan targeted areas of the body by injecting isotopes into the bloodstream.

Study leader Wilson Miller said: "There was once a first X-ray image, and a first CT-scan image, and first MRI image. We have now produced the first image of a new technology, PNI, which someday may be as much in use as those others."

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