MRI scanners are pivotal to diagnosing a wide range of conditions, but with new measurement approaches, they could be used to diagnose many more.
Unlike other perfusion measurement techniques, it does not require injected contrast agents which can harm patients, making it ideal for both diagnosis and long-term monitoring, saving lives and improving quality of life for the terminally ill.
Over the past few years there has been a huge effort by the research community on ASL, culminating in a 2015 medical white paper recommending a standardised methodology for clinical practice. However, despite clear benefits, it is held back by the absence of a reliable way to calibrate MRI machines for ASL.
London-based Gold Standard Phantoms is addressing this with the world’s first perfusion standard – also known as a ‘phantom’. It is working with NPL, through the Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Programme, to ensure the standard is accurate and trustworthy. This will give GSP a unique competitive edge in the healthcare market, whilst opening up a valuable new diagnosis technique.
Gold Standard Phantoms’ innovative standard simulates a fixed rate of perfusion, allowing MRI scanners to be calibrated against known values. It is roughly the shape of the upper body and head, and contains a simulated capillary bed through which fluid is pumped at a highly controlled rate.
Gold Standard Phantoms needed to know the flow rate within the phantom to provide a defined value against which MRI measurements could be compared. They built a computational fluid dynamics model which relates flow in the phantom to MRI images. But this model was complex and included many assumptions and uncertainties. They needed to validate the inputs into their model, to ensure the outputs could be relied upon.