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First functional MRI comes to University Hospital

The MRI produces three-dimensional images of a patient's brain.

Oct. 30, 2012

Corrected 10/30/2012 at 1:15 p.m. MU Health Care radiologist Ajay Agarwal was formerly reported as Ajay Aggarwal. The Maneater has made this correction and regrets the error.

The University Hospital acquired central Missouri’s first functional magnetic resonance imaging system, according to an MU Health Care System news release.

The fMRI produces 3-D images of a patient's brain that not only show the physical structure of the brain, but also detect neurological activity and illustrate which portions of the brain control specific activities, according to the release.

"While functional MRI has been used in scientific research since the 1990s, fMRI has only been used in health care for less than a decade," MU Health Care radiologist Ajay Agarwal said. "Functional MRI gives us an image of a patient's brain while also showing us precisely which areas control activity such as speech, hearing and movement - with those areas 'lighting up' on the images.”

The fMRI imaging is especially helpful when locating specific regions of the brain in patients with certain neurological conditions, such as brain tumors and epilepsy, Agarwal said.

N. Scott Litofsky, chief of the Division of Neurosurgery in the School of Medicine and director of neuro-oncology and radiosurgery at MU Health Care, explained how a fMRI can show how close a tumor is to the part of the patient's brain that controls speech.

“Functional MRI can tell me exactly where the tumor is located and exactly where the speech area is located," Litofsky said. "That helps me achieve my goal of removing as much of the tumor as possible without affecting my patient's speech.”

The major benefit of having the new machine and the accompanying software is the help it will provide for pre-operational planning, Litofsky said. It will make the surgery easier for both the surgeons and the patients.

The new fMRI machine will be an asset to the hospital in patient care, MU Health Care spokesman Colin Planalp said.

“We acquired the fMRI system because this new piece of technology allows us to treat our patients using the most advanced methods in neurosciences care,” Planalp said. “It’s another important tool for our comprehensive team of physicians caring for patients at the new Missouri Neurosciences Center at University Hospital.”

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Article comments

Oct. 30, 2012 at 10:17 a.m.

Tobias Gilk: Someone at MU Healthcare should have looked about a mile south, adjacent to Reactor Field. The Marx Brain Imaging Center, part of the University's department of Psychological Sciences, has been using fMRI for years. Largely unknown, the Marx Brain Imaging Center is actually a showpiece for the University, producing some of the highest quality fMRI data, in a specially designed facility.

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