This week, a study from Queensland University of Technology has revealed that sweets, vitamins and soy sauce containers could be MRI markers and serve as alternatives to commercial ones.
According to the findings, these and some other relatively cheap, common items have been shown to be consistently visible MRI markers when placed on a patient to pinpoint specific areas being scanned.
Dr Paige Little, Senior Research Fellow from the QUT Biomechanics and Spine Research Group, reported that in order to generate images of organs, bones and tissue, the MRI uses strong magnetic fields. This, combined with loud noises from the equipment, have created challenges for radiographers to perform MRI scans successfully on children.
This study has confirmed the use of inexpensive everyday items as an MRI marker. Sweets such as a jelly babies or a plastic soy sauce container, could make the overall process less intimidating for children who are scared of the scans.
Dr Little also mentioned the group’s collaborative Sleep Posture research project wanted to look at alternatives to commercial markers , which often cost between $6 and $10 each. As the group conducted the study with 50 participants, the costs associated with getting each of them an individual marker were substantial.
It was important to find a marker that was small, cheap and easily sourced, which could also be visible on MRI and distinguishable from bone and soft tissue.
All of the alternative markers, alongside a commercial product for comparison, were tested and scanned at Mater Medical Imaging using the five most commonly ordered MRI sequences.
Not all of the testers generated equivalent results. The visibility of some items, like the coffee bean, was poor, but the vitamin D capsule proved to be the best substitute for a commercial marker on all of the tests. Especially for smaller areas of the body like the fingers and toes. The jelly baby sweets, soy sauce container, and fish oil capsules were also viable alternatives for some of the MRI sequences, not all.
Depending on what had to be done, these four items were cheap and could serve as reliable alternatives to a commercial marker. This could greatly help to reduce any medical imaging department’s overall costs where necessary.
On top of that benefit, using familiar items could help to make the medical imaging process a lot less frightening for children.
Dr Little said that while the study has not tested at what point the cheaper alternatives might rupture and spill contents, the research group has since been using the vitamin D capsules routinely in its spinal studies. And in the Sealy of Australia-supported ‘Science of Sleep’ project, multiple markers were used throughout the MRI scanning sessions, and none had ruptured or degraded.
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