Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a technique that uses a magnetic field, pulses of radio wave energy and a computer to make digital pictures of organs and structures inside the body. The process takes place inside an MRI machine which utilizes a very strong magnet to create a magnetic field powerful enough to align the protons of hydrogen atoms, which are then exposed to a beam of radio waves. This spins the various protons of the body, and they produce a faint signal that is detected by the receiver portion of the MRI scanner. The receiver information is processed by a computer, and an image is produced.
MRI tests have many applications with research animals, including stroke, cancer and drug efficacy. It allows for researchers to study small cellular changes and, unlike more traditional models, MRI allows for the study of disease progression without the need to sacrifice the animal. This suggests there is a need for fewer animals, driving down costs and allowing more research to be done.
MRI studies must be done with non-metallic materials because of the magnetic field, which can react strongly, damaging the animal or equipment. Components for MRI work can be made of any number of MRI compatible materials such as Teflon, nylon, glass, copper, titanium, platinum, silver or a myriad of plastics.
MRI is capable of detecting small changes often missed by more general scans like CT or x-rays. This makes it a suitable test for detecting cell abnormalities like those found in tumors or cancer, changes in the brain caused by aneurysms or strokes, as well as structure and positioning of organs and joints. Additionally, MRI tests have no known potential side effects, unlike x-rays, CT scans or PET scans which expose patients to low doses of ration.
MRI equipment can be very expensive, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. This puts them out of reach of many smaller institutions. MRI images have also been known to contain distortions known as artifacts. This can lead to blurring of images, or “ghosting”, and false positive results. Artifacts can be caused by a number of things including motion of the animal, such as breathing, presence of metal or other foreign objects in the body, and improper shielding or equipment failures.
Plastics One is proud to serve the research community with the creation of MRI compatible lines of cannulas for injection and electrodes for electrophysiology.