Investigating brain injury or disease, researchers often focus on the trillions of neurons inside, but they have a support network that’s just as important. A web of blood vessels, floods the brain with precious chemicals like oxygen, needed for neurons to work properly. Mapping out these vessels using magnetic resonance angiography often means injecting the patient with a dye that shows up in the vessels under an MRI scanner. With some of these chemicals linked to further health problems, the hunt is on for new ways to spot vessels. Researchers have now developed a device using a collection of transmit and receive antennas that are tightly arranged to fit the human head inside the MRI scanner. This new technique creates a powerful, yet harmless, magnetic field around the patient, while specially designed sensors take sensitive, high-resolution images – picking out even the tiniest arteries, arterioles, in the brain (here), upper body or limbs. Such sensitive imagery is just the trick to spot the hallmarks of small vessel disease, often linked with depression in older adults.
Written by John Ankers
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