Philips Logo Royal Philips Electronics has introduced a new innovation in the medical imaging technology, called the Magnetic Particle Imaging. This breakthrough technology produces real-time images of blood flow and heart movements. This technology has also been used in a pre-clinical study to produce the first 3D imaging results.

This technology makes use of magnetic properties of the injected iron-oxide nano-particles in the bloodstream, to gauge the level of nano-particle concentration in the blood. It’s said that since the human body does not contain any magnetic element that is detectable by this technology, there is no background signal. To overcome this problem, iron-oxide nano-particles are injected in the blood stream, which make the nano-particles noticeable in the images. This in turn makes the measurement of the nano-particle concentration easier.

Professor Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, director of the Mount Sinai Heart Center, New York, says that, “A novel non-invasive cardiac imaging technology is required to further unravel and characterize the disease processes associated with atherosclerosis, in particular those associated with vulnerable plaque formation which is a major risk factor for stroke and heart attacks. Through its combined speed, resolution and sensitivity, Magnetic Particle Imaging technology has great potential for this application, and the latest in-vivo imaging results represent a major breakthrough.”

Senior vice president of Philips Research and head of the Healthcare research program, Henk van Houten, says that, “We are the first in the world to demonstrate that Magnetic Particle Imaging can be used to produce real-time in-vivo images that accurately capture cardiovascular activity. By adding important functional information to the anatomical data obtained from existing modalities such as CT and MR, Philips’ MPI technology has the potential to significantly help in the diagnosis and treatment planning of major diseases such as atherosclerosis and congenital heart defects.”

The Magnetic Particle Imaging unites short image acquisition time with high spatial resolution to capture concentration changes that take place as the nano-particles flow in the blood stream. This makes it possible for the scanners of this technology to cover a wider area through a single scan. These may include the measurement of the myocardial perfusion, the coronary blood supply, etc. among others.

This breakthrough technology could be used to make better diagnosis and plan therapy for a number of diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, stroke, etc. The use of this technology in a pre-clinical study indicates an advanced step taken from transporting this technology from a theoretical concept to an imaging tool.

Their results were published in the Physics in Medicine and Biology issue.