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Math Theory Could Reduce MRI Scan Times

One of this century’s most significant mathematical discoveries may decrease the number of MRI measuring points to one-sixth of the current level, reducing patients’ exposure to radiation, speeding the imaging process and freeing up time for more scans.

 The theory of compressed sensing enables compressive sampling without having to look at the raw data first. The idea is to solve a task by involving as few measurements as possible, according to physicists at the University of Oslo.

Research fellow Andreas Solbrå, whose background is in mathematics, physics and calculation theory, is the first person at the University of Oslo to have put his theory to use. “Each measurement provides much more information than you think, provided you are smart about the sampling,” says Solbrå.

 The method is highly calculation-intensive, and may be used to reduce the number of measuring points needed for MR examinations by one-sixth, so the MR imaging process may become six times faster than it is currently. The method was successfully tested at the American Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford a few years ago.

A single MR scanner carries a price tag of NOK 10 -20 million, depending on the technology and the software. The duration of an MR examination varies between 10 and 60 minutes, depending on what the doctors are looking for, according to MR physicist Oliver Geier at Oslo University Hospital’s Intervention Centre.

“A simple examination of a knee takes ten minutes. A cancer check-up may well take more than an hour,” says Geier. “The socio-economic savings may be considerable if it is possible to reduce the time it takes to carry out an examination to one-sixth of the present level.”

“This means that hospitals may examine six times as many patients without having to buy more scanners and increase their staffing levels. There is also reason to believe that the new mathematical method can reduce the level of radiation from CT scans by five-sixths. The results remain just as good,” Solbrå points out.


Source: University of Oslo

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