OHSU scientists develop MRI approach to improve breast cancer detection

PORTLAND, Ore. Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University's Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC) are developing a new imaging method that may provide a clearer diagnosis of breast cancer. The research is published in the latest issue of the journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. AIRC Director Charles Springer, Ph.D., is senior author, and AIRC Manager, Xin Li, Ph.D., is first author of the new paper, along with William Rooney, Ph.D., AIRC faculty. Professor Springer also holds appointments in OHSU's Cancer Institute and Department of Biomedical Engineering.

"This technique involves a new method for interpreting information gathered through MRI," explained Springer. "The technique involves recognizing that certain properties of MRI signals can change during the examination, much like the changing of a camera's shutter speed. On a camera, a fast shutter speed can make a speeding car look as if it is standing still. A slower shutter speed may result in a photo showing the car blurring past the camera. This principle, when correctly applied to MRI imaging, can provide more accurate information. In the case of MRI, the blurring is not of the actual image, but of the time courses of the MRI signals."

Magnetic resonance imaging technology combines the use of powerful magnets and radio wave pulses. The magnet influences the magnetization of the body's water molecules. The radio signals that are received from this can be converted into a visual representation.

The shutter speed concept allows researchers to adjust the mathematics of the computer program analyzing the signals to account for the movement of water molecules in and out of cellular compartments in diseased and healthy tissue. When the MR shutter speed increases, this movement appears to slow. In the case of tumors, using shutter speed analysis not only more clearly indicates the locations of tumors, it also allows researchers to distinguish between malignant tumors and beni

Contact: Jim Newman
Oregon Health & Science University

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