The team that created the portable MRI: Clarissa Cooley, Jason Stockmann and Larry Wald. (Photo courtesy of the Martinos Center)
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is the gold standard for soft tissue imaging in the body, but the current hardware has a few drawbacks: scanners are gigantic, expensive, loud and require high power. All these factors make it so an MRI scanner can’t travel to a battlefield or to a patient in a remote location.
But a team at the MGH Martino center is developing a portable low-cost MRI scanner for human brain imaging. The prototype scanner can be wheeled into a patient’s room, plugged into a standard outlet and safely operated by a clinician at the patient’s bedside. How? First, instead of imaging the whole body, it only scans the patient’s head. Second, the researchers replaced the standard magnets with a compact permanent magnet that fits around the head mechanically rotates. Then they use complex algorithms to reconstruct the images.
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