6th Aug, 2002
A new kind of medical imaging technology able to provide detailed, three-dimensional maps of nerves and other soft tissues may help doctors and researchers better understand and diagnose stroke, multiple sclerosis, autism, schizophrenia and other medical conditions.
Better images of tissue structure
Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DT-MRI) was developed by the American National Institutes of Health (NIH).
DT-MRI is similar to conventional MRI in that it's a non-invasive method that doesn't need contrast agents or dyes to produce images of the inside of the body.
But DT-MRI differs in that it's able to measure the three-dimensional random motion of water molecules in soft tissues. That produces intricate images of the soft tissue's structure that can help doctors better detect development, degeneration, disease and ageing in soft tissue.
Variety of uses
Since it was invented, DT-MRI has been used to map nerve pathways in the brain, diagnose acute stroke, and gauge the effectiveness of new medicines for stroke prevention.
DT-MRI has also been used to detect changes in brain white matter in people with Lou Gehrig's Disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy and to assess the type and severity of brain tumours.
Cognitive and behavioural disorders such as schizophrenia, dyslexia and attention deficit disorder have also been studied using DT-MRI
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