US researchers led by NYU School of Medicine have created a new glove-shaped MRI component that can be integrated into garment-like detectors to allow clear imaging of moving joints such as bones, tendons and ligaments.

The team believes that the MRI glove prototype can also help in the diagnosis of repetitive strain injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome.

In addition, its ability to image the movement of various tissue types could guide hand surgery by providing realistic images, allow for the generation of a versatile hand anatomy atlas and the designing of prosthetics.

“The team believes that the MRI glove prototype could help in the diagnosis of repetitive strain injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome.”

NYU Langone Health Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research scientist Bei Zhang said: “Our results represent the first demonstration of an MRI technology that is both flexible and sensitive enough to capture the complexity of soft-tissue mechanics in the hand.”

The captured radio waves in existing MRI scanners generate currents inside receiver coils, which create their own magnetic fields and prevent surrounding coils from capturing clean signals.

For the new component, the researchers used a high impedance structure that can block such current, which means that the receiver coils do not create magnetic fields that affect nearby receivers.

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In their study, the team observed that their new coils stitched into a cotton glove could generate ‘exquisite’ images of tissues even during free movement.

Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research assistant professor Martijn Cloos said: “We wanted to try our new elements in an application that could never be done with traditional coils, and settled on an attempt to capture images with a glove.

“We hope that this result ushers in a new era of MRI design, perhaps including flexible sleeve arrays around injured knees, or comfy beanies to study the developing brains of newborns.”