How Accurate and Effective Can Portable MRIs Be?
How accurate and effective can portable MRI systems be for identifying damage to wrist cartilage and, therefore, facilitate earlier detection and treatment of sports injuries? A new study has answers.
The study, “Development of a Car-mounted Mobile MR Imaging System for Diagnosis of Sports-related Wrist injury,” was published online on April 26, 2022, in the journal Magnetic Resonance in Medical Sciences.
To see if there is an easier and quicker way to identify wrist injuries in athletes, researchers at the University of Tsukuba, a public research university located in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan, developed a portable MRI system to screen for wrist injuries before they are symptomatic.
The researchers explained that for injuries such as cartilage tears, early detection and treatment are crucial to reduce the amount of time a player is way from training and competing.
MRI scans have been shown effective at identifying cartilage damage even before the patient becomes symptomatic, they said. However, whole-body MRI scanners are expensive and not practical for screening athletes outside of hospitals and clinics.
The researchers initially developed a portable MRI system for screening for baseball elbow injuries. They then made improvements so it could diagnose wrist injuries. The improvements include an effective shielding method to obtain high-quality images, and an outlet-free power system to eliminate the need for a commercial power supply.
“Because this system is portable, athletes can be quickly screened at a remote location, such as their practice field,” Professor Yasuhiko Terada, said in a statement.
“Thus, this device can eliminate the need for players to go to a hospital for diagnosis.”
They tested the improved MRI scanner at a tennis school where they imaged the wrists of tennis players between the ages of 8 and 18 years of age. Several of the athletes screened had cartilage damage, some of them without any symptom of injury.
“As future work, further devices can be developed for other joints, such as the ankle or knee,” Professor Terada added.
Study authors include Tomoki Miyasaka, Michiru Kajiwara, Akito Kawasaki, Yoshikazu Okamoto and Yashukio Terada, all of the University of Tsukuba.