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Researchers Develop Protocol That Improves Bone Metastases Detection by 30 Percent

At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, researchers have developed a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that improves the detection of bone metastases in the body and is a quicker process than a conventional MRI scan.

Bone metastases consist of abnormal cells from the initial tumor site, and occur when the tumor spreads to the bone. Bone metastases can weaken and break bones, cause numbness, weakness, and compress the spinal cord. The condition can also have negative consequences on the bone marrow. Swift detection of bone metastases can prevent these symptoms. However, timely detection can be challenging because scans only target specific parts of the body.

The group of researchers led by Ananth Madhuranthakam, PhD, has named their protocol DETECT, an acronym for Dual-Echo T2-weighted acquisition for Enhanced Conspicuity of Tumors. The process can scan the entire body in just seven minutes, which is being called the fastest bone metastasis detection procedure. It produces high resolution T2W images to detect bone metastases at 3T with fat and fluid suppression.

The researchers tested the protocol on a group of five patients and five volunteers with metastatic kidney cancer. They found they were able to identify 30 percent more bone metastases that hadn’t shown up in traditional scans. “We modified the MR scanner to provide information that was not available before,” said Dr. Madhuranthakam. “The images we generate perfectly align with the body.”

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