A Change in MRI Coming Soon?

MRI machines are typically expensive pieces of equipment. Imaging Technology News tells us that an MRI machine’s average cost can be more than a million dollars. Because of this high cost, patients have to pay quite a bit on a per-scan basis. Some rural communities can’t even afford this piece of equipment, making it inconvenient in case residents there need to get a scan done. Additionally, these machines have found it hard to get an accurate look at the internals of a person because of the lack of a proper enhancing agent. While all of these are significant issues, we may be seeing a breakthrough in MRI tech shortly.

Changing the Script

For those who can afford a visit to Express MRI, it’s evident that the procedure is complicated, but not difficult for non-specialists to understand. An MRI machine uses magnetic waves to bounce a signal off the internals of a human body and then record the results. However, the waves themselves aren’t enough to get a clear view, and so many practitioners need the patient to have something in their body, known as a contrast agent. As The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering mentions, some of these contrast agents contain chemicals like gadolinium, which may cause renal failure in some diabetic patients. This knowledge may make it seem like MRIs are dangerous, but for most of the population, they’re a much safer alternative to X-Rays. New research has been positive towards developing an MRI machine that doesn’t use gadolinium-based contrast agents but is now even more affordable than ever.

Low-Field MRI

Most standard MRI machines operate between the range of one to three Tesla for their generated magnetic field. However, newer MRI models tend to create less of a magnetic field, meaning that the core components used in them are cheaper. Even so, one of these tools can still run a health facility into the hundreds of thousands and won’t produce precise and crisp results as a standard MRI machine. This difference comes down to the low-powered magnetic field’s ability to detect the internal structures in the human body. However, according to Science Advances, there has been research into using far less harmful contrasting agents such as superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) with low-field MRI scanners. This development is great news since these low-field scanners can be used in areas with small populations that can’t afford a standard MRI scanner. Additionally, it suggests that MRI images can be sharpened using a non-harmful contrast agent such as the SPIONs.

A New Age of MRI Machines?

With the ongoing advances in medicine and biotechnology, it was evident that MRI machines would become more affordable. Low-field MRIs can be more portable and don’t need a specialized arena. They still may have some of the limiting factors of larger MRIs, such as specialists to read the scans. However, their energy requirement is far less. For less financially secure neighborhoods, the low-field MRI may be precisely what the community needs to secure its health.