A pocket-sized MRI scanner?
Sodium is essential to human health, and the levels in the skin are a useful indicator of the risk of kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes and many other conditions.
The human skin acts as a storage reservoir for sodium, and being able to assess sodium store levels quickly and accurately would be highly beneficial for doctors and patients.
Sodium storage in the skin can be determined using whole body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but this has limitations – not least the size, expense and availability of whole-body scanners.
At the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre we are working on a new ‘sodium MRI sensing’, an advanced scanning technology with the potential to greatly improve diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of serious health conditions.
We’re developing a miniaturised sensor that can measure sodium content in the skin – with- out the patient having to undergo a whole-body MRI scan.
"We’re developing a miniaturised sensor that can measure sodium content in the skin – with- out the patient having to undergo a whole-body MRI scan."
Our proposed solution is an MRI-based sensor that is portable, lightweight, harmless to human tissues and can easily be taken to a subject undergoing another treatment, such as dialysis. Effective in minutes, small enough to use at the bedside or at home, it would be a huge step forward in imaging.
Essentially, it would be a whole-body MRI scanner that fits into the palm of your hand.
Our research is at the interface between physics and clinical medicine – this makes the work very exciting not only from the fundamental but also from the applied perspective. And if we bring health sensors from Star Trek home it would be one mighty achievement!
Dr Galina Pavlovskaya is an Associate Professor in Translational Imaging in the School of Medicine.