MRI May Predict Recovery After Spinal Cord Injury

Science Daily — Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), radiologists can better predict the likelihood of full or partial recovery of patients with acute spinal cord injuries (SCI), according to a study published in the June issue of the journal Radiology.

"Our study demonstrates that the possibility and extent of neurological recovery after SCI can be predicted within 48 hours after injury by rigorous assessment of MR images," said co-author Michael G. Fehlings, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.S.C., professor of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto and medical director at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital. "In addition," Dr. Fehlings said, "these findings could result in a more aggressive clinical strategy for patients who may appear to have a severe SCI but may indeed have the capacity for substantial neurological recovery."

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FDA Orders Black Box Warning for Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 23 -- The FDA today ordered black-box warnings for all gadolinium-based contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging, detailing an increased risk for nephrogenic systemic fibrosis with kidney-disease patients.

The warning alerts clinicians of possible severe kidney insufficiency in patients at risk for nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, a potentially fatal disease, who receive gadolinium-based agents. The boxed message also warns that the nephrogenic systemic fibrosis risk extends to patients with chronic liver disease including those just before or after liver transplantation.

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Medical, high-energy physicists collaborate to improve PET scans

Physicists are developing new electronics for identifying subatomic particles in high-energy accelerators that may also enable radiologists to detect cancer at an earlier, more curable stage.

"The electronics needs in medical imaging look very closely related to the needs we have in high-energy physics," said Henry Frisch, Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. "Physics tends to advance by new capabilities in measurement, the same in radiology."

Radiologists, medical physicists and high-energy physicists share a desire to more precisely measure the velocity and location of subatomic particles, Frisch explained. A significant improvement in Positron Emission Tomography technology could mean the difference between life and death for some patients, said Chin-Tu Chen, Associate Professor in Radiology at the University of Chicago.

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MRI-enhancing agents need warning - U.S. FDA

WASHINGTON, May 23 (Reuters) - Contrast agents used to make magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scans easier to see should carry new, strong warnings, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday.

The warning -- a "black box" -- would alert physicians that patients with certain kidney and liver conditions are at risk for a potentially fatal skin disease called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, the agency said in a statement.

The condition triggers thickening of the skin, organs and other tissues that makes it difficult to move and can lead to broken bones, although the exact cause is unclear. There is no effective treatment.

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Functional MRI correlates brain activity with emotional response in autistic children

Functional MR scans have confirmed that levels of brain function are low or nonexistent in autistic patients viewing stimuli designed to provoke emotional activity, according to studies presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research held in early May in Seattle.

Research led by Dr. Susan Bookheimer, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles's Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and graduate psychology student Mari Davies gauged autistic children's reaction to direct-gaze and averted-gaze faces.

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MRI Robotic Biopsies Simplified by PneuStep

Engineers at the Johns Hopkins Urology Robotics Lab report the invention of a motor without metal or electricity that can safely power remote-controlled robotic medical devices used for cancer biopsies and therapies guided by magnetic resonance imaging. The motor that drives the devices can be so precisely controlled by computer that movements are steadier and more precise than a human hand.

"Lots of biopsies on organs such as the prostate are currently performed blind because the tumors are typically invisible to the imaging tools commonly used," says Dan Stoianovici, Ph.D., an associate professor of urology at Johns Hopkins and director of the robotics lab. "Our new MRI-safe motor and robot can target the tumors. This should increase accuracy in locating and collecting tissue samples, reduce diagnostic errors and also improve therapy."

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G250 PET characterizes clear-cell renal carcinoma

PET imaging using the iodine-124-labeled antibody called chimeric G250 (124I-cG250) can accurately identify clear-cell renal carcinoma, according to a study by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Findings could lead to an improvement in the clinical management of patients with kidney tumors.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that approximately one person in 7500 in the U.S. will develop some type of renal cell carcinoma each year. A third of them will eventually die from the disease. About 90% of renal metastases, which carry the poorest prognosis, are clear-cell RCCs.

This prospective clinical trial is the first to show that PET with a radiolabeled antibody is sensitive and specific enough to identify this histologic subtype, said principal investigator Dr. Chaitanya Divgi, who is now chief of nuclear medicine and clinical molecular imaging at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Coronary CT angiography finds an affordable home

A year ago, research regarding 64-slice CT angiography focused on feasibility. Feasibility is no longer an issue. Rather, a wealth of evidence presented at the recent European Congress of Radiology attests to the fact that coronary CTA is a powerful and useful tool to evaluate patients suspected of coronary artery disease who are at intermediate risk. It is within this niche patient group-those who would otherwise undergo invasive catheter angiography-that coronary CTA is finding an affordable home. Researchers are also venturing outside this niche to determine where else cardiac CT might have value.

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Blueberry juice effective dye for MRIs

It's a trendy drink among health conscious people who like to pack a wallop of antioxidants while quenching their thirsts, but radiology experts have also latched on to blueberry juice as a drink to give patients before undergoing magnetic resonance imaging scans on their bile ducts.

According to research originally conducted in Japan, blueberry juice is effective as a contrast agent to improve, or delineate, the structures of the stomach, duodenum, small bowel, large bowel, pancreas and bile ducts. That's because blueberry juice is rich in manganese, a metal found in nature and an essential element in our diet.

"Normally, the fluid in the stomach is always in the way and degrades the image," said Wayne Patola, a supervisor in St Paul's Hospital MRI department in Vancouver, who introduced blueberry juice after attending radiology conferences where its benefits were being touted.

"Blueberry juice given orally will affect the way the stomach fluid behaves on MRI and effectively remove it from appearing on the image. This allows for better visualization of the bile ducts," he said.

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Medical scans zapping insurers

By M. William Salganik
Baltimore Sun

Danilo Espinola is a busy doctor who seldom sees a patient. Instead, he spends most of his time in a half-darkened room at Advanced Radiology's imaging center in Pikesville, peering at amazingly detailed scans on a computer screen as he searches for malignancies or other abnormalities.

Less than a decade ago, the technology - positron emission tomography - was primarily a research tool shunned by insurers. But once Medicare and private insurers decided to cover the diagnostic test, usage shot up.

In the past five years, the number of PET scans increased 400 percent, according to consulting firm IMV Limited

Now more than a million PET scans are done a year, at about $2,500 apiece. Espinola reads 20 to 25 scans in a typical day, a rate that would yield more than $1 million a year in billings.

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Study Uses MRI To Determine Features Of Osteoarthrosis

Abnormalities in the ligaments found on the outside of the knee (lateral collateral ligament complex or LCLC) are commonly seen on MRI in patients with knee osteoarthrosis (OA), according to a study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA.

The study consisted of 96 patients (53 women, 43 men), 51 with knee osteoarthrosis, and 44 patients with knee pain following an injury and no history of knee osteoarthrosis who underwent MRI. "The patients were graded on the severity of knee osteoarthrosis on radiographs and the severity of abnormalities of the LCLC components on MRI," said Yung-Hsin Chen, MD, of Johns Hopkins Hospital and lead author of the study.

The study showed that LCLC abnormalities were identified in 88% of the patients with OA compared to 12% of patients without OA. The study revealed that lateral compartment osteoarthrosis was significantly associated with abnormalities in the fibular collateral ligament.

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