Updated May 11, 2018 11:25:28A new scanner is being used by medical schools and hospitals to improve the accuracy of MRI scans in correcting vertebral spinal injury, but the results could be decades away.
The MRI-scanned vertebral vertebrae of a patient with spinal cord injury were scanned by a computer at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, to improve their accuracy.
The results are expected to improve significantly, said Dr. Richard J. Schuster, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and head of the biomechanics department at McMaster and the lead author of a study published this week in the journal Clinical Radiology.
“I’m hopeful we can go back to a day when this is done at the clinic,” he said.
Schuster is not affiliated with the study.
The scans were done by a machine that scans the spinal fluid in patients with spinal injuries that have progressed beyond the spinal cord, he said, and the scans show the brainstem and spinal nerves are in the correct position to correct the damage.
“You don’t have to do it at the spine, you can do it the rest of the body,” Schuster said.
The team used the machine to scan about 150 patients at McMaster with spinal injury that had progressed beyond that region of the spinal canal.
The scan was done with a 3D camera and software that automatically adjusted the camera position based on the angle of the scan, which showed that the scan could be corrected in about 15 minutes, according to the researchers.
“It is a very, very nice result,” said Dr of Neurosurgery and Surgery Dr. Michael C. Zilberman, who wasn’t involved in the study and didn’t work on the study but is familiar with the results.
The machine uses a pair of infrared sensors that measure electrical activity within the skull, and then a software program determines how much of that activity is actually being caused by the skull.
The software then creates a series of mathematical models of the human brain that then automatically corrects the errors.
Zilberman said the software can correct errors up to 90 percent of the time.
That means the system can be much faster than a surgeon would be able to be at the front of a room with a patient and have to walk around a patient.
“The surgeon has to have a pretty high degree of confidence that he can get the correct result,” Zilberger said.
But if a surgeon can’t correct the error, Zilberg said, the system will not be able improve accuracy.
“In the end, you’re going to have to have the patient in a room and you’re not going to get the correction of the error,” he added.
The study shows the system is very reliable, and its accuracy can be up to 10 percent, according a press release from McMaster University.
The study is the latest in a string of high-tech medical procedures that have been developed by McMaster University’s medical students.
Schutz’s team also developed a new type of machine that uses ultrasound to look at the nerves and muscles of the brain, and to correct errors in that.
The device is being tested by a small number of doctors at McMaster.
Schultz said that as more medical researchers work on improving the accuracy and speed of brain scans, he is looking forward to the day when they can make similar improvements at the surgical table.
“We need to be able [to] take these scans, which are very, really expensive, and make them much, much cheaper,” he told ABC News.
He also said he hopes that by working on the computerized scans, the researchers will eventually be able “to put them in a computer and run them on a computer, and see how it works.”