Standard MRI looks at hydrogen, mainly in water which makes up 70% of the human body. By looking at the water within the body’s tissue the effects of disease and injury on the tissues can be measured using MRI. However, MRI can also be used to image other elements such as sodium which in the body forms sodium Chloride (salt). Sodium MRI provides an additional way to increase understanding of the human body and how disease effects it.
We’re particularly interested in using sodium MRI to study the kidneys as sodium plays a key role in allowing the kidney to maintain the fluid and electrolyte balance. We’re investigating whether sodium content in the kidney can be used to assess changes in diseases such as chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury. Sodium MRI can also be applied in the skin and muscle to assess the accumulation of salt within the body and we’re looking at how these changes for patients receiving haemodialysis.