Scanner 'temperature check' hope14 years, 9 months ago
Posted on Apr 04, 2005, 7 a.m.
By Bill Freeman
Doctors are developing a technique to prevent patients inside MRI scanners from getting too hot. Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanners use magnetic fields to build up a picture of the inside of the body. The stronger the magnetic resonance, the more accurate the image, but the hotter body tissue becomes.
The stronger the magnetic resonance, the more accurate the image, but the hotter body tissue becomes.
The researchers from Nottingham Trent University are investigating if a laser sensor could effectively monitor temperature and oxygen levels.
Experts at the university are looking at developing technology to monitor patients' body tissue temperature, which can increase dramatically inside the scanner.
By knowing the temperature of the patient undergoing the scan, they say the system's power could be adjusted as necessary to make it more comfortable.
Scanner operators currently have to stand nearby asking the patient if they are comfortable.
The Nottingham researchers say an automatic feedback would be an easier and more immediate way of controlling the strength and keep them at a suitable temperature.
The researchers have received funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for the project.
They will not be able to use a metallic temperature measurement tool inside the scanner, and plan to look at using laser probes triggering phosphor sensors.
The theory is that a laser would make phosphor on the end of the probe light up, but then as the pulse stopped, the temperature inside the scanner would determine the pace at which the light died away.
That would then tell researchers how warm it was inside the scanner.
Dr Robert Ranson, who is leading the research, said: "The results of the research could lead to such improvements as eliminating the need for verbal communication during MRI scanning, and medical sensing of both body temperature and levels of oxygen in the blood."
However Dr Lindsay Turnbull of the Centre for Magnetic Resonance Investigations in Hull, said: "We do speak to patients every few minutes when they are inside scanners to check if they are OK.
"And there is an alarm bell, so they can let us know immediately if there is a problem."
She added: "The machines are specially designed so that they cut off if you try to turn the power up too high."