"This technique involves a new method for interpreting information gathered through MRI," explained Charles Springer, Ph.D., Director of the Oregon Health & Science University's Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC).

"The technique involves recognising that certain properties of MRI signals can change during the examination, much like the changing of a camera's shutter speed. On a camera, a fast shutter speed can make a speeding car look as if it is standing still. This principle, when correctly applied to MRI imaging, can provide more accurate information. In the case of MRI, the blurring is not of the actual image, but of the time courses of the MRI signals."

When the MR shutter speed increases, this movement appears to slow. In the case of tumours, using shutter speed analysis not only more clearly indicates the locations of tumours, it also allows researchers to distinguish between malignant tumours and benign tumours.

To conduct this research project, the scientists analysed data from six patients identified as having breast tumours with mammograms. The patients were injected with a contrast agent, which acts like an MRI dye and provides clearer images. The patients received MRI scans as the dye passed through the tumours.

The time courses of the MRI signals were analysed with the shutter speed model. The results showed hot spots only in images of malignant tumours but not in the benign tumours (three of the cases). This complete distinction was not the case using the standard MRI technique, and there was no distinction using mammography. Pathology results on these tumours confirmed the accuracy of the new MRI testing.

"While continued research is required, we believe shutter speed analysed MRI could become a powerful tool for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and almost any other form of cancer, as well as many other pathologies," explained Springer.

MEDICA.de; Source: Oregon Health & Science University