Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Fruitful Slices
18 March 2013

Fruitful Slices

Slicing through an orange to expose its tiny juice-filled pockets arranged in petal-like segments is thrilling, but destroys the orange orb forever. An alternative is to visualise ultra-thin sections of the tangy treat using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) (pictured). This leaves the fruit untouched, but reveals every bite of beauty within. MRI scanning is the technology of choice for doctors homing in on tumours in patients with suspected cancer. Inside the scanner, patients – like these fruit – are exposed to a strong magnetic field and radio waves. The waves bounce off tissues and emit signals that computers translate into detailed pictures. But until now MRIs could not reveal brain tumours until they reached the size of a plum stone, often too big to treat effectively. With sensitive MRI techniques coming to fruition, they will cut the size of a detectable brain tumour to little larger than a tomato seed.

Written by Caroline Cross

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