For long, we were unable to detect the damage caused to soft tissues like ligaments. The X-rays easily pass through them and only hard structures like bones can block them. To understand and treat such conditions, it was imperative to develop technology to detect the same. The invention of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines solved this problem. It began in 1882 when Nikola Tesla discovered the Rotating Magnetic Field, a fundamental discovery in the field of physics. Later in the mid-twentieth century, scientists discovered and demonstrated the quantum phenomenon known as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). However, it took up until the 1970s to finally create images from the NMR signal. Later, researchers went on to make several breakthrough discoveries in the field of medicine and healthcare. For example, the distinction between healthy and cancerous cells.
Later on, more advanced versions of MRI machines developed. The 3T (Tesla) MRI is the most powerful equipment today. The 1.5T short-bore MRI remains the standard and most-used technology for MRI scanners. However, these machines either produce too much heat or noise, both of which can lead to the discomfort of patients. Even in the case of minutely detailed scans like in the case of brain cells, these machines may not perform up to the mark. This may be due to several factors. Therefore, the need of the hour is a scanner which provides highly detailed images. While achieving is a success in itself, the comfort of the patients shouldn’t be sacrificed.
Srinivas Sridhar, a professor of Physics at the Northeastern University, is leading a research effort that uses magnetic nanoparticles to create detailed maps of blood vessels and blood volume in the human brain. Such imagery could help doctors spot anomalies and blood-flow problems. It would also help in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Sridhar said that he hopes to extend this MRI method to other parts of the body. For example, organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys that are vulnerable to gadolinium’s toxic effects.