A research team at Purdue University in the US has developed a new analytical imaging technology that eliminates the need for contrast agents to detect and monitor cerebral vascular disorders and injuries in the brain.
The new approach is based on functional MRI and looks for an intrinsic blood-related MRI signal, which is used as a natural biomarker to track blood flow in a patient.
Cerebral circulation time is the delay that occurs during the travel of intrinsic signals from the internal carotid artery to the internal jugular vein.
A prolonged time delay is perceived as blood flow disturbance in the brain, potentially due to a tumour, traumatic brain injury or other brain diseases.
Purdue University Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering assistant professor Yunjie Tong said: “We can compare the signal from symmetric arteries and veins in both hemispheres or neck to assess the cerebrovascular integrity or the balance of blood flow.
“The blood flow should be symmetric between the two sides in a healthy subject.”
The cerebral circulation time is commonly calculated using imaging methods such as MRIs that require injection of contrast agents into the patient.
However, these techniques allow measurement during the few seconds following the injection and may cause health problems related to contrast agents.
On the contrary, the new non-invasive imaging technology allows continuous monitoring of the circulation time and is comparatively safer as it does not require the imaging agents.
The new test technology is compatible with existing MRI scanners and other imaging equipment, including near-infrared spectroscopy.
The researchers are planning to partner with various organisations. such as companies and medical institutions, to conduct additional assessments of their imaging method.