For the first time, researchers were able to capture high-quality images of an arm’s moving joints using a new MRI device.
In a study published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering by researchers from the NYU School of Medicine, the team described how their new MRI device was able to capture clear images of bones, tendons, and ligaments all moving together.
The new MRI tech is shaped like a glove. According to the researchers, it could be useful in the future diagnosis of repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome which is common in athletes, office workers, and musicians.
The study also suggests that since the MRI gloves could show how different tissue types affect each other while they move, it could also be used in constructing a more versatile atlas of the human hand anatomy.
Aside from that, the hand images that it produces in more realistic positions could be used as a guide during surgeries or in creating better prosthetic designs.
“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,” Bei Zhang, a research scientist at the Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research in NYU, said.
The researchers reportedly discovered that their system, with new high impedance coils stitched into a cotton glove, could produce “exquisite images” of moving muscles, tendons, and ligaments in a hand while it plays piano and grabs objects.
The MRI signal reportedly comes from hydrogen atoms, making the new technology excel at capturing images of soft tissue structures that are rich in water. Because of this, the new MRI device generates muscle, nerves, and even cartilage images better. These are all areas which are difficult to study using other non-invasive methods.
“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,” Martijn Cloos, assistant professor from the CAI2R institute in the Department of Radiology at NYU Langone Health, went on to say.
“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.”