An MRI scanner is generally a large bulky machine that takes up a lot of space and comes with many safety regulations. This often makes it unsuitable to use in an operating theater, although endeavors in that direction have been taken. Another option to harness the power of MR imaging without having to deal with these problems is to make use of a small portable machine. This largely limits the possible objects you can scan due to the much smaller bore, but might be interesting for certain specific applications. On of such applications is to define during surgery whether the biopsied tissue contains any tumor. During certain oncological procedures lymph nodes are removed in order to define whether the tumor has metastasized. Generally, if the first lymph node connected to the tumor is free of cancer cells, the rest of the lymph nodes will be “clean” as well, making it unnecessary to remove them, sparing the patient a lot of additional side effects. In order to check this result an MRI scan can be made, and since the biopsied tissue is generally very small (<1 cm) this is possible in a portable scanner.
Therefore main research questions here is: “Can a tabletop MRI give direct oncological results on biopsy samples within the operation room?”. In order to answer this question first the tabletop systems should be used to scan lymph nodes in a similar fashion as is currently done on regular scanners. If it is possible to detect metastases, the next step would be a large experiment containing many lymph nodes to tests the sensitivity and specificity.
Additionally, the tabletop scanners might have another use, namely imaging of arteries during an endograft intervention ex vivo. This enables imaging the vessel wall, plaque and the procedure of placing a stent. This might lead to improvements in balloon pressure and stent placement.
This research is led by dr.ir. Frank Simonis and in collaboration with dr. Lejla Alić, assistant professor in MD&I group on magnetic particles, and dr. Richte Schuurmann (M3I/UMCG) who is interested in the ex vivo vascular imaging.