Monash's AI method claims to cut MRI scan time to minutes

Tuesday, 27 February, 2024

Monash's AI method claims to cut MRI scan time to minutes

Monash University researchers have developed a new artificial intelligence (AI) method, called McSTRA, that could make a five-minute full-body MRI scan a reality.

With more than 30 million Australians reliant on diagnostic services every year, some patients are forced to wait weeks to secure an appointment, creating significant delays to receiving a diagnosis.

Lead researcher and Monash PhD candidate Mevan Ekanayake, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, said reducing delays to diagnostic imaging services could save lives by enabling more timely treatment, particularly for at-risk patients.

“When tested on abnormalities in the knee, our research showed that McSTRA could complete scans 10 times faster and produced clearer, more clinically accurate diagnostic imaging compared to the latest technology,” Ekanayake said.

“Speeding up scan times at this rate could eliminate patient wait times and has the potential to save lives by enabling more timely and accurate diagnoses and treatment monitoring. Our method could also reduce diagnostic risks in MRI and cut costs to the healthcare system.”

If further validation of the method is successful, the researchers hope to see it incorporated by manufacturers into next-generation MRI equipment for use in patient settings. The technology could reduce the scan times from up to an hour to just minutes, boosting the number of patients accessing diagnostic services, according to the researchers.

Ekanayake said that “high-risk patients awaiting urgent diagnosis would benefit most from speedier scan times, along with those living in regional and remote areas where less diagnostic services were available”.

Patients undergoing scans must remain motionless inside an MRI scanner for up to 60 minutes, which can be an unpleasant experience for some. Study senior author Associate Professor Zhaolin Chen, Head of the Imaging Analysis at Monash Biomedical Imaging, said faster scan times could reduce patient discomfort.

“McSTRA uses superior deep-learning technology to simultaneously enhance MRI image quality and enable unprecedented scan times,” Associate Professor Chen said.

“A much shorter scan time may reduce the level of discomfort experienced by patients undergoing MRI, particularly among the vulnerable including children, the elderly, individuals with disabilities or those with claustrophobia.”

The study was a collaboration between researchers from Monash Biomedical Imaging and the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University.

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