Turning Magnetic Resonance Inside Out

By P. W. | Science News, August 4, 2001 | Go to article overview

Turning Magnetic Resonance Inside Out


P. W., Science News


People undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans must remain within the coils of the scanner's electromagnet. Otherwise, the patient isn't in a magnetic field uniform enough to give a good image. Unfortunately, patients often find this situation uncomfortable.

Maybe there's a better way, say Carlos A. Meriles, Alexander Pines, and their colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley.

These researchers have developed a means for recovering useful magnetic resonance signals from materials within a nonuniform magnetic field. The method, described in the July 6 SCIENCE, may benefit both medical imaging and the widely used chemical-analysis technique known as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, Meriles says.

Ultimately, it may enable doctors, scientists, and others to analyze samples placed beside a magnetic coil, not in it. For patients, that could translate into a less claustrophobic experience.

Both MRI and NMR depend on the spin of atomic nuclei, a property that makes those nuclei act like tiny bar magnets. …

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