Researchers at the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e; Eindhoven, The Netherlands) and the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam have developed a technique that allows muscle structures to be imaged in 3-D.
The technique uses what is known as MRI diffusion tensor imaging which allows the movements of water molecules in living tissue to be viewed.
This was already possible on a small scale with simple muscles, but thanks to Eindhoven University's Dr. Martijn Froeling, who improved upon the speed at which MRI data could be acquired, it can now also be performed on a larger scale and with complex muscle structures. More importantly, the improved technique also reveals very small muscle damage.
To study the effectiveness of the technique, Froeling imaged a range of subjects including the thighs of marathon runners at different times: one week before a marathon, two days after it, and again three weeks after. He was able to visualize the muscle damage following the marathon, which was still visible after three weeks, even though many of the runners no longer reported any pain in their muscles.
AMC Amsterdam and TU/e now intend to use the technique in studies of post polio syndrome and spinal muscular atrophy.
More information on the system is available here.
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-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design