On this day: 13th February 2012

Oxford scientists reveal new developments in MRI scans

The scientists, led by Dr Daniel Bulte, discovered that by giving patients in the MRI scanner varying proportions of carbon dioxide and oxygen, they could measure blood flow, blood volume, oxygen use and metabolism across the whole brain. This major breakthrough would give medics far greater information about stroke and brain injury patients.

In 2012, Scientists from the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Imaging of the Brain revealed that they had been able to measure brain activity through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in more detail than ever before.

At the time of the discovery, only a few stroke patients received an MRI scan when they arrived at hospital; scans were expensive and while they could image the brain, they still didn’t provide enough diagnostic information to be sufficiently useful. The new method was the first time images of brain physiology corresponded to real measurements, giving a far more detailed breakdown of brain activity. The only technique that came close to providing a similar amount of information was oxygen-15 positron emission tomography (O-PET). However, O-PET was far more expensive and exposed patients to significant doses of radiation.

The new method would help speed up the diagnosis of patients and save money.

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