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Handheld MRI Scanners Could Be On the Way Soon With Breakthrough in Magnetic Technology

Posted Jun 11 2010 4:58pm

Having a small hand held unit is one way to reduce exposure, and the technology is not quite ready to be put on the shelf yet, but it is in the works to develop a hand held device.  The article states additional tweaking is required to match the power of a full MRI type magnet, but they believe it can be tweaked to double the image current power. 

When you stop and think about how expensive MRIs are, this could make a serious difference and not for use for all scanning, but for localized searches for blood clots and cancer proteins it could be done right in the office of the future.  BD 

Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a handy scientific tool to have around (for instance, it's the fundamental tech behind magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI). It's ability to identify and study things like protein structures and chemical compositions make it fantastically flexible, but there is a huge drawback: The size and expense of the superconducting magnets necessary for precision NMR make it an immobile and expensive process. But researchers in Germany have created a portable magnet that could shrink NMR devices from room-size to palm-size.

The breakthrough won't replace the large MRI machines necessary for a good medical scan, but it could be the basis for handheld devices that analyze archaeological artifacts on-site or identify blood clots or cancer proteins right in the physician's office, or even in remote areas far from conventional lab resources.

Such high-res, portable NMR can only reach a magnetic field strength of 0.7 tesla (large medical imaging magnets produce ten times that) but that's just the beginning. Researchers think they can tweak the current design to wrench 1.5 tesla from a portable NMR device, and by using magnets of different materials they might even reach two tesla. Not bad for something that fits in the palm of your hand.

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