The UW MR Flow Group is no stranger to front page news, and for good reason. Their recent advances in imaging of blood flow in typically difficult-to-image parts of the body have landed them on the cover of the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (JMRI) four separate times, in addition to their recent cranial imaging cover story in the January issue of Radiology.
While the typical clinical method for flow imaging in the brain is X-ray based angiography, the Flow Group has simplified the process while greatly enhancing resolution and clarity of the image.
“With this new technique, it’s non-invasive. It’s a five minute MRI scan, and afterwards, in the computer, we virtually inject the dye and see where the flow goes from there,” said Dr. Oliver Wieben, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the UW Radiology Cardiovascular Imaging and Imaging Sciences Sections, and member of the UW Flow Group.
“It provides you with insights into the human body that people haven’t really seen before, because regular MRI and ultrasound cannot provide [the] kind of comprehensive information we can with this new approach. To couple them with advanced visualizations is very intriguing for physicians,” said Wieben.
Much of the group’s past and current research is focused on the liver, a unique vascular system by virtue of its supply from both
arteries and veins. Traditionally a difficult organ to view on ultrasound, the group’s innovations now allow doctors to easily examine connectivity between blood vessels and even to identify vessels with retrograde flow, according to Wieben.
Yet another application of this technique is in patients suffering from congenital heart disease, said Wieben. Individuals will
usually require several surgeries throughout their lifetime, and these breakthroughs in imaging can aid physicians in identifying
clinical markers of abnormal blood flow through the heart and determining the course of action in the case of aberration.
“It’s like you have a flashlight in a department store to look around and all of a sudden somebody switches on all the lights,” Wieben said.