FDA Approved First-ever Portable MRI Machine

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is basically a scanning technique that produces detailed and comprehensive images of body tissues and organs using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.

This invention of MRI has revolutionized the field of medicine in all new terms. MRI scan is commonly used in hospitals for diagnosis and treatment evaluations. However, an MRI scan requires a whole specialized setup to be performed. The setup is build up in special rooms in hospitals.

These rooms have the facility of magnetic quench vent pipes, the check system to prevent the entry of any metal with the patient that can be attracted by the strong magnets. Specific scanning protocols are followed to ensure safety. For these reasons, the patients have to get themselves around the MRI scanners in hospitals.

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To facilitate patients and prevent this barrier to immediate scanning, a company named Hyperfine has developed portable MRI scanners. This company, having its main offices in New York and St. Guilford has successfully got clearance for its portable MRI scanner by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), USA.

This portable MRI scanner is named Lucy (Lucy Point-of-Care Magnetic Resonance Imaging Device) by the company.

Lucy Point-of-Care MRI can scan neck, head, extremities and other parts in any clinical setup. This is particularly intended to be used in Intensive Care Units (ICU), emergency wards and rooms as well as in all those health facilities that still do not have the conventional clinical setup for MRI.

Although the complete device weighs about 635 kg (1400 lbs), it is still quite lighter than the conventional MRI setup.

The device has a wheel array at the bottom which moves with the help of a motor. Therefore, it does not require any manual push to move it from one room to another within the same healthcare facility.

It runs by pugging-in the socket in the standard power outlets on walls. It uses low magnetic fields that ensure its safety around other devices and equipment in the room.

Researchers have performed a clinical study using this new portable MRI scanner. They have presented the results of this study at the International Stroke Conference, 2020 of the American Stroke Association this week.

According to the details provided about the results, 85 stroke patients underwent the bedside, low-field MRI scan within a week of onset of symptoms.

These patients included 46% of females with age from 18 to 46 years, 34% intracerebral hemorrhage, 46% ischemic stroke and 20% subarachnoid hemorrhage.

The examination time was 30 minutes on average and most patients completed their examination durations. However, 6 patients faced claustrophobia (the fear of confined and small places) and 5 patients did not fit in the 30 cm opening of the Lucy Point-to-Care MRI machine. Therefore, it hindered their examination.

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Hence, for the first time, a low-field MRI scan through a portable MRI device successfully created images of patient’s brains accurately to evaluate stroke right at the bedside.

These findings also suggest that an MRI scan can be safely performed on the bedside without any interference with other devices and has significant potential for practical use in multiple and different settings.