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Mayo Clinic develops new technology to improve diagnosis of arm and hand injuries and disease


IBM collaborated on the industrial design and is manufacturing the new medical device

Mayo Clinic today announced it has developed a series of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices that make it easier to diagnose injuries and diseases that affect wrists, forearms, elbows, hands and fingers. Mayo has obtained FDA approval to market and commercialize these devices, making them available to other medical centers nationwide.

Named Mayo Clinic BC-10 MRI Coils, these devices are highly sophisticated units used in taking detailed pictures of a particular part of the body. They produce high resolution images at 1.5 and 3 Tesla. Tesla indicates the strength of the main magnetic field used in MR imaging. High resolution images improve a physician’s ability to see small structures such as tiny ligaments and nerves in the hand. This means more accurate diagnosis of injuries and diseases, and in some cases, eliminates the need for invasive diagnostic procedures such as arthroscopy, the visual examination of the interior of a joint with a special surgical instrument.

"Accurate diagnosis is the critical forerunner to effective medical treatment, which is why Mayo focused on improving the diagnostic capabilities of magnetic imaging," says Kimberly Amrami, M.D., a radiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

This is the first of a series of MRI coils Mayo is developing to improve the accuracy and thoroughness of imaging diagnoses. Mayo Clinic worked with IBM industrial design engineers to optimize the functionality for the benefit of both the medical technician and the patient. Some of the design changes IBM orchestrated brought quick reward, such as adding windows to the sides of the device that enable technicians to better view and align patient anatomy within the coil.

"This effort represents years of medical research and a great collaboration between a team of Mayo clinicians and IBM engineers, and we look forward to a continued collaboration, including developing more designs with the goal of improving patient care," says Samuel Prabhakar, director of system solutions, IBM Engineering & Technology Services.

Mayo has been using these coils clinically for three years to diagnose cartilage degeneration, nerve compression, ligament injuries, tendon abnormalities, tumor detection, bone injuries and scarring within the wrist.

"The level of detail and resolution we are now obtaining has allowed for more definitive diagnosis based upon imaging -- something we have been previously cautious about stating," says Richard Berger, M.D., Ph.D., orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic.

In June 2002, the journal Radiology published results from a comparative study in which six healthy volunteers had MRI scans with both the Mayo Clinic MRI Coil and three other designs for wrist scanning. A blinded review of the images by five Mayo Clinic radiologists and one medical physicist indicated a preference for the images created using Mayo Clinic Coil in the majority of the comparisons.

The coils are being manufactured by IBM in Rochester, Minn., and will be available to other medical centers in early 2004. Revenue Mayo receives from this device will be used to support Mayo’s clinical practice, medical research and education activities. Medical centers interested in acquiring the coil may call Mayo Medical Ventures, 507-284-8878, for more information.

B-roll of coil in use available upon request.

Additional Contact
Cary Ziter
IBM Engineering & Technology Services

Suzanne Leaf-Brock | EurekAlert!
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