Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has become a cornerstone of modern radiology. Without the radiation associated with X-ray and CT scans, physicians can use it to see any part of the body, from any angle. Some MRI techniques are so advanced that a fully rotatable, 3D model of an entire human body can be uploaded to the cloud.
But all MRI boils down to the same principle: you lie down in a giant magnet, with a magnetic field many thousand times stronger than Earth’s.
So what if a patient with metal in their body, say from a hip replacement, needed an MRI scan? Fortunately, most hip replacements are made from non-magnetic material that can safely be scanned in an MRI. However, the implants still present a challenge when being scanned. They often appear blurred, and leave artifacts, or image distortions, in the scan.
Enter Dr. Hollis G Potter, MD. Dr. Potter is a board-certified radiologist specialized in musculoskeletal MRI since 1990. She is internationally recognized for her expertise in developing MRI applications for orthopedic conditions.
The solution to this problem is what Dr. Potter calls “the perfect model for translational research,” an MRI algorithm called MAVRIC SL, an advanced technique for imaging soft tissue and bone near MR conditional metallic devices.
MAVRIC SL was designed to greatly reduce artifacts caused by the presence of MR conditional metallic implants and thus helps significantly improve visualization of bone and soft tissue.
“You have a physical problem: how do you reduce artifact generated by the implant in a big MRI system? It’s also a mathematical problem. Once we have a solution, we have a direct translation from mathematical to physical. We directly affect patient management with a powerful impact on healthcare.”
GE Healthcare scientists collaborated with Dr. Potter and her team, and over the course of a decade, developed MAVRIC SL as an imaging tool for MR conditional implants which allows MRI to be utilized by the clinician so they can determine how effective surgery has been.
“The thing is,” explained Dr. Potter, “when you put the same component (in this case, a hip implant) into a group of different people, some people do beautifully, but other people will have an inflammatory reaction to the implant and fail quickly, requiring revision surgery.”
In those people who don’t do so well with implants, they develop what is called an adverse inflammatory reaction. The body is essentially calling on its defenses to try and eliminate the debris generated by the foreign object.
“So we need a means by which to noninvasively visualize this inflammatory reaction process,” added Dr. Potter. “The traditional techniques, including measurement of blood ion levels of the metallic components, have not proved efficacious. We’ve spent about 10 to 12 years studying patients with [hip] implants and found that MRI is very helpful in the early detection of an adverse reaction to an implant.”
With this algorithm, Dr. Potter can spot an adverse tissue reaction before it has a chance to do any serious damage. When the body rejects a hip implant, the inflammation can eventually spread “into all the surrounding muscles and tendons, literally eating away at the surrounding tissue like battery acid, causing tissue necrosis.”
Thanks to this MRI algorithm, surgeons and radiologists can now spot adverse reactions before any serious damage occurs.