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7-tesla MRT: anatomical study points to clinical application

(Vienna, 10-01-2011) With a comparative study of a brain region (nucleus dentatus) on the 7-tesla ultrahigh-field magnetic resonance tomograph (MRT) MedUni Vienna is taking an important step towards clinical application of the 7-tesla MRT. The results point to the use of high-resolution imaging before interventions in this brain region.

Worldwide there are currently around 35 ultrahigh-field MR tomographs with a field strength of 7 tesla in scientific use, one of these has been at the Centre of Excellence for high-field MR at the Medical University of Vienna since 2008. So far these devices with their particularly high-resolution imaging have been only used for research purposes, however, and for clinical applications tomographs with a maximum of 3 tesla are currently used (tesla = unit for the strength of the magnetic field).

For the 7T tomographs to be ready for series production – and therefore for use in the clinical area – it is necessary to carry out experimental research beforehand because suitable body coils have to be developed and manufactured for the different testing purposes. MedUni Vienna has a particular pioneering role here. The studies are designed for the practicability of the technology in everyday clinical use, and the most clinical trials in the world are also carried out on the Vienna 7-tesla.

A key step in the direction of clinical use of 7T tomographs came with the recently published work of Dr. Antonio Di Ieva and Ao. Univ. Prof. Dr. Manfred Tschabitscher, both from the Division of Systematic Anatomy at MedUni Vienna. For the first time they compared high-resolution images of the brain of living people with corresponding specimens.

In close cooperation with the group under Univ. Prof. Dr. Siegfried Trattnig, medical head of the Centre of Excellence for high-field MR, the team of researchers concentrated on the nucleus dentatus, a central region of the human cerebellum, in this work. They paid particular attention to the development of the smaller blood-transporting vessels which are subject to a higher risk of injury in this region during interventions. Here they compared various differently prepared anatomical specimens with 7-tesla magnetic resonance images of the cerebellum of test people and discovered that there are big differences in the structure of these vessels, so individual examination of the patients is recommended before such operations.

Since the fine structures of these vessels can be made visible only with particularly high-resolution images, this study opens up new perspectives for neuroradiological imaging and in the clinical area therefore offers greater potential for the future of preoperative planning for patients with cerebellar lesions and for research in the field of in-vivo microvascularity of the central nervous system. The importance of the results is also being underlined by publication in the latest issue of the renowned specialist journal “NeuroImage”, where an image from this work is also used as the cover.

» Centre of Excellence for high-field MR at MedUni Vienna
» Centre for Anatomy and Cell Biology at MedUni Vienna