Artificial Intelligence Helps Improve MRI Imaging of Strokes

High resolution MRI scans of the brain can take around thirty minutes to perform, but in the case of a stroke this can be much too long to wait. Typically, if MRI is used, a stroke patient is rushed through so that fewer imaging slices are taken, resulting in a much lower quality image. Compared to high end scientific studies that produce imaging slices around a millimeter apart, a quick scan can have the slices spaced up to seven millimeters from each other. At this resolution, many of the automated computer vision algorithms that help to understand the images fail to work, and precise diagnosis is a serious challenge. Researchers at MIT working with clinicians at Massachusetts General Hospital have been working on using artificial intelligence techniques to be able to use high resolution scans of different patients taken previously to significantly improve the image quality of MRI scans of incoming stroke victims. The technique relies on filling in the space between the scanned slices so that an algorithm that has studied large numbers of comparable high quality scans confirms that the generated image looks similar. The data from the original image and the generated data are kept separate so that various measurements can be always compared against the actual scan. Following up on this, the team will apply their algorithm on 4,000 previously obtained low quality scans of stroke patients from twelve hospitals. Using the higher resolution images they will attempt to study the anatomy of strokes, some of which has remained blurred due to the concerns and limitations when dealing with stroke patients. The research is being presented...

Toshiba Medical Releasing New Vantage Titan / Zen Edition 1.5T MRI Scanner

Toshiba Medical, now part of Canon Group, is releasing a new 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner with features that benefit both patient comfort and how efficiently exams are conducted. The Vantage Titan / Zen Edition 1.5T, as its name implies, offers a considerably quieter experience in certain scanning modes thanks to the firm’s Pianissimo technology. This can result in up to a 99% reduction in how loud the system is compared to many existing MRI scanners. There are also options to use MR Theater, a system that relies on a display wall behind the scanner and a mirror for patients to have something to look at during exams. There are also advantages such as fast workflows and option presets that help to optimize scanning while speeding up how long patients spend in the scanning room. Some of the other advantages of the Vantage Titan / Zen Edition 1.5T according to Toshiba: Multi-echo T2* Mapping takes cardiac workfl­ow one step further. T2 maps with Toshiba Medical’s updated FFE2D mEcho sequence can be used in quantification and analysis of myocardial iron overload. T1 mapping that utilizes Modified Look Locker Inversion (MOLLI) sequence allows providers to acquire a more quantitative characterization of myocardial tissue within a single breath hold. Phase Sensitive Inversion Recovery (PSIR) in the heart provides improved contrast in late-enhanced imaging and eliminates the need for calibration, allowing cardiac exams to be completed with fewer breath holds and greater patient comfort. Ultrashort Echo Time (UTE) captures images in tissues that generally disappear too quickly for accurate MR imaging, enabling imaging of anatomy such as the MSK and lungs to help providers...
EaseCentral Raises $6.5M and Launches Two Offerings for Health Insurance: Interview with CEO David Reid

EaseCentral Raises $6.5M and Launches Two Offerings for Health Insurance: Interview with CEO David Reid

EaseCentral, a cloud-based benefits enrollment software platform built for small and medium insurance brokers and employers, has announced a $6.5 million Series A round of funding led by Propel Ventures and involving current investors Freestyle Capital, Compound, Upside Partnership, and Transmedia Capital. Along with the raise is the announcement of EaseCentral’s two new health insurance broker offerings. The first is a free, employee-facing iOS mobile application that facilitates access to insurance cards, health plan information, and paid time off days along with paperwork documentation like W9 forms. The second is an integration with ADP to allow easy payroll setup, syncing between benefits and payroll systems, and automatic updates to deductions based on an employee’s open enrollment decisions. Commenting on the announcement, David Reid, EaseCentral’s CEO stated, “Our mission is disseminating the very best technology to brokers via the most user-friendly platform.” Medgadget had a chance to ask David a few follow-up questions regarding EaseCentral’s latest health insurance offerings.   Medgadget, Mike Batista: What was EaseCentral’s motivation behind offering a mobile app? David Reid: Over one third of the workforce is made up of millennials and mobile devices are their preferred method for accessing the internet.  This is a quickly growing segment of the population and will soon represent the majority.   Medgadget: Both of EaseCentral’s new offerings (ADP integration + mobile app) are specifically identified for health insurance brokers. How do these offerings specifically benefit the health insurers and their customers? Reid: While our primary customer is the insurance broker, we provide solutions that enable them to better serve their customers. For employers:  Our ADP integration will primarily benefit Group Administrators by streamlining Benefits Administration...

Calming Virtual Reality Scenarios Prove More Effective at Reducing Pain

Virtual reality technology has been used in the past to help reduce the pain experienced during difficult to endure procedures, such as the SnowWorld game designed to help assist with bandage changes on burn victims. The actual mechanism how virtual reality actually numbs the pain was not properly studied, the assumption seems to have been that distraction is really what virtual reality does for pain. Researchers have now tested this assumption under new circumstances, including a cold pressor lab setup and real world dental procedures during which patients wore virtual reality headsets.  They were immersed in two very different environments, one a calm beachside walk and the other a busy urban situation full of distractions. Turns out the calming scene was significantly better at improving how people experience and remember the pain they have endured during tooth extractions and fillings. While this was not entirely unpredictable, the study does point to it being important what kinds of virtual reality environments are used to help alleviate pain. Moreover, there might be a lot more variations in this field that may point to certain virtual situations being better for certain types of pain or procedures. Study in journal Environment and Behavior: The Soothing Sea: A Virtual Coastal Walk Can Reduce Experienced and Recollected...

Electronic Barcoding of Microparticles to Help Bring Disease Biomarker Detection out of Lab

As research is progressing in understanding human diseases, it turns out that many conditions have related biomarkers that show up in the blood and other body fluids. Being able to continuously monitor for the presence of disease biomarkers outside a clinical setting may allow for early detection of cancer and other diseases. Researchers at Rutgers University are now reporting in journal Lab on a Chip on a new barcoding technique for tagging microparticles that is electronic in nature, rather than optical or plasmonic, that can be used within small mobile devices that are not tied to a pathology lab. Optical and plasmonic barcoding requires relatively large instruments, such as microscopes, to spot the tags that become attached to target biomarkers. The barcodes that were developed at Rutgers rely on electrical impedance to signal their presence, something that can be detected using sensors that should be small enough for integration into wearable devices. The technology relies on not so widely known electrical phenomena, but which has resulted in “tunable nano-capacitors on the surface of micro-spheres, effectively modulating the frequency dependent dielectric properties of the spheres allowing one bead barcode to be distinguished from another,” according to the study abstract. A bit more detail from Lab on a Chip: Nanoelectronic barcoding uses a well-known, but unexplored electromagnetic phenomenon of micro-particles: the Clausius–Mossotti (CM) factor spectrum of a Janus particle (JP) shifts depending on the zeta (wall) potential of the metallic half of the microsphere, and the fact that the complex impedance spectrum of a particle directly corresponds to the CM factor spectrum. A one-to-one correspondence will be established between each biomarker and the corresponding engineered microsphere....