'Awake Imaging' boosts Dx prospects for fidgety patients

Most types of diagnostic imaging equipment carry a basic rule: Patients must stay still. That can create care challenges for children, the elderly or patients with neurodegenerative diseases, all of whom may need sedation or restraints to keep them from moving around. And in the case of brain scans, those added aids can trigger added brain activity that can skew imaging results.

"Awake imaging devices" may change this. Researchers working together from government, academia and industry came up with the new technology, dubbed AwakeSPECT. Folks at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Laboratory and Johns Hopkins University worked together on the project, where a prototype is based. General Electric even participated in the project, supplying an injected radiotracer known as DaTSCAN. And the Oak Ridge National Laboratory says it is pursuing a commercialization plan for the tech. (Check out the Journal of Nuclear Medicine for details on their work.)

As the researchers explain, the new technology adds "motion compensation reconstruction." That's an elaborate term for software that removes motion-related blurring. And it is key to enabling physicians to get clear images of the brain without restraining patients or giving them sedation to keep them from moving. They successfully tested it on mice (without anesthesia or restraints), using GE's DaTSCAN radiotracer. In the case of brain imaging, there is a lot to be gained by developing reliable technology that eliminates concerns about excess movement skewering the results. At the very least, it allows for cleaner diagnostic assessments of difficult patients who, quite simply, can't keep still.

The tech, in conjunction with DaTSCAN or other imaging aids, could also lead to better therapies, boost drug discovery and even improve diagnostic assessments. And a more precise imaging for fidgety patents could help boost studies of autism and Alzheimer's and perhaps enable the development of new, targeted treatments for various neurological conditions. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Justin Baba and his colleagues even see it as boosting pharmaceutical drug discovery work, according to the research announcement

"Wit this work, we're hoping to establish a new paradigm in noninvasive diagnostic imaging," Baba said in a statement.

- read ther release
- here's the journal abstract

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