Conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) relies on aligning the magnetization of hydrogen atoms in a study sample, which makes it an excellent tool for visualizing water-rich materials like soft tissues and organs.
Yet MRI is not fundamentally limited to focusing on hydrogen atoms, and scientists at Yale have developed a new approach that allows them to visualize phosphorus, opening a way to look into hard tissues like bone. The imaging technology may take some time finding use in clinical practice though, because the process creates too much heat for live tissue to survive. We’re speculating that perhaps it may instead serve as a safer option over therapeutic radiation.
From the announcement:
In the experiments reported in PNAS, the Yale team generated high-resolution 3D MRIs of phosphorus in a variety of ex vivo animal bone and soft tissue samples, including cow bone and mouse liver, heart, and brains.
The researchers say this new type of MRI would complement traditional MRI, not supplant it. MRI of solids should also be possible with elements other than phosphorus, they say.
“This study represents a critical advance because it describes a way to ‘see’ phosphorus in bone with sufficient resolution to compliment what we can determine about bone structure using x-rays,” said Insogna, a professor at Yale School of Medicine and director of the Yale Bone Center. “It opens up an entirely new approach to assessing bone quality.”
Press release: Yale research offers new way to see inside solids…