Researchers use 7-tesla MRI to generate 3D brain maps

Austrian researchers are using 7-tesla MRI to create precise maps of the brain before surgery to help surgeons avoid damaging vital areas, according to the Austrian Science Fund.

Before brain surgery, patients are scanned with functional MRI (fMRI) to create a map for surgeons. To this end, 7-tesla MRI systems are capable of achieving resolution four times higher than that of previous generations of MR devices, according to a team led by Simon Robinson, PhD, of the Medical University of Vienna. But these scanners are also more susceptible to distortions, which can lead to imprecise functional imaging, the group wrote.

To address the problem, Robinson and colleagues conducted a five-year project during which they used an image correction process for fMRI studies: Before starting the fMRI exam, the group calculated the system's contribution to measured signals, then deducted this value from the functional imaging data to create an exact 3D map of individual brains.

This protocol allows neurologists to then decide whether surgery is useful -- or even possible -- and which parts of the brain need to be spared, the researchers noted in a statement released by the Austrian Science Fund, which funded the project.

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