Hyperfine rolls out rapid, brain-imaging AI software for its MRI scanner-on-wheels

Hyperfine is rolling out new, artificial intelligence software for its portable MRI machine, which the company says can help it perform a brain scan in less than three minutes.

Speeding up that task could be especially useful in examining young children with hydrocephalus, where cerebrospinal fluid can accumulate within the brain.

These cases account for more than 40,000 hospital admissions annually, Hyperfine estimates, with many children typically undergoing two or more brain scans per year to make sure the fluids are not putting too much pressure on the brain.

However MRI machines—of any size—are not available everywhere, and the children that undergo CT scans not only receive a dose of radiation, but many have difficulty remaining still for the necessary amount of time without being sedated.

Repeated exposure to radiation, meanwhile, has been linked to higher risks of cancer. The company spotlighted the AI-powered software during the annual meeting of the Hydrocephalus Association.

“There is no way to prevent hydrocephalus, and there is no known cure,” Hyperfine Chief Medical Officer Khan Siddiqui said in a statement. “Young people diagnosed with this life-threatening neurological condition require life-long brain monitoring.”

Hyperfine employs deep learning techniques to help improve the image quality of its Swoop MRI scanner-on-wheels, which instead relies on permanent magnets and low-power radio waves to examine a patient, compared to the massive, powerful machines that typically reside in hospital basements.

The new software received an FDA clearance last month, which expanded the Swoop’s capabilities with the addition of two MRI sequences—or how the machine delivers radiofrequency pulses and reads the responses to generate an image of the body.

They include a T1 standard sequence, designed for imaging structures located deeper within the brain tissue, and a 50% faster T2 sequence, which typically brightens cerebrospinal fluid and makes it easier to spot abnormalities.

Hyperfine also secured an AI clearance from the FDA in November 2021, which the company said helped to improve image quality by 60%.