Portable Low Field MRI for Application in Multiple Sclerosis
- Shannon Kolind, University of British Columbia
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease that attacks the nerves in the brain, making it difficult for the brain to send signals to the rest of the body. MS symptoms are extremely variable, and can include difficulty walking, fatigue, pain, and cognitive issues such as problems with concentration, memory and word-finding. People living with MS have scars, or lesions, that can be seen in the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI is essential in MS care, for diagnosis, detection of new lesions, monitoring disease progression, guiding treatment decisions, and for use in clinical trials of new drugs. Unfortunately, MRI scans are expensive, have long wait times, and are often inaccessible for people in remote locations or who have difficulty with mobility or transportation. Many people cannot have an MRI because they are claustrophobic, or have something in their body that is not safe for MRI, such as certain metal implants or pumps. Hyperfine is a company that has developed the world’s first portable, easy-to-use MRI system. It has a much lower magnetic field than typical clinical MRI scanners, costs much less, fits in a cargo van, and can be set up easily using a standard wall outlet. Since it has a low magnetic field, is portable, and only covers the head, it can be used by far more people than standard clinical MRI scanners. We will receive a Hyperfine point-of-care low field MRI scanner in early 2021. Currently, the types of scans possible using this scanner are limited. Our short-term goal is to modify MRI techniques for low magnetic field, which requires distinct physics from those at higher field strengths, and prove their utility for use in MS. The longer-term goal is to provide improved patient access to MRI to enable faster diagnosis and better disease management.