THE ATTRACTION OF MRI FOR FOCUSED ULTRASOUND
I went home to New York for Thanksgiving this year. Although an American holiday, in our interconnected world, Thanksgiving, and even more so, the shopping frenzy the day after, have moved beyond the red, white and blue to become part of a global ethos. However, it is sometimes nice to remember the original purpose of the holiday – giving thanks.
Every year after the leaves have fallen and everyone has finished their Thanksgiving meal, it is time for The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting. This year, I joined 55,000 other people at Chicago's McCormick Place for the event. From the exhibit floor as well as the scientific sessions, imaging is the focus – ultrasound, x-ray, PET, CT and MRI.
Since INSIGHTEC's focused ultrasound technology relies on MR imaging, I started thinking what do we know about MRIs?
MRI emerged in the 1970s and since then has become a vital tool for diagnosing diseases of the central nervous system and for identifying soft-tissue injuries. It is estimated that there are about 36,000 MRI machines around the world with the largest number found in Japan, the USA and Germany.
We all have heard about the noise and yes, I can confirm that it is very noisy to have an MR scan. We all know that the scan is safe and does not expose the patient or team to radiation. We all know that an MRI scanner has a large, powerful and doughnut-shaped magnet in which the patient lies. I repeat - a very powerful magnet. A magnet that can pull metal objects right out of your pocket without warning. Indeed, there are very strict safety rules when operating in and near an MRI room.
The theme at RSNA this year was "Explore. Invent. Transform," and I am taking creative license here to apply it to MR-guided focused ultrasound.
- Explore – Not so long ago, exploratory surgery was done to "take a look around" and see what was going on inside the body. Using MR imaging together with focused ultrasound to see and treat inside the human body without making any cuts – this is an amazing discovery.
- Invent –In 1880, Pierre Curie and his brother, Jacques Curie, discovered the piezoelectric effect in certain crystals that led to the evolution of high frequency echo-sounding techniques. Just two years later, Nikola Tesla discovered the rotating magnetic field. Inventions allow medicine to progress, although it often takes generations of development from the initial discoveries.
- Transform - Originally a purely diagnostic modality, MRI has evolved to a powerful non-invasive tool that together with focused ultrasound is transforming patient treatments. MRI provides a high-resolution 3D view of the patient anatomy for accurate target localization, MR thermometry for real-time thermal feedback and contrast enhanced images to assess the outcome immediately following treatment.
Now back in the office after RSNA, I recall the sounds of the multilingual crowds, the smell of the pizza and popcorn and the image of all of us together in one place to learn and connect. I am thankful. Thankful that I work for a company that has truly ground-breaking technology that changes people's lives. Thankful that I work with an amazing team of individuals. Thankful that I get the opportunity to travel and learn from people all over the world.