There is a new scanning technology on it's way which will give a much clearer picture of lung disease has taken a major step forward thanks to scientists at The University of Nottingham.
Experts at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre have developed a process using specially treated krypton gas as an inhalable contrast agent to make the spaces inside the lungs show up on an Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. It's hoped the new process will eventually allow doctors to virtually see inside the lungs of patients.
Traditional magnetic resonance imaging uses hydrogen protons in the body as molecular targets to give a picture of tissue but this does not give a detailed picture of the lungs because they are full of air. Recent technological developments have led to a novel imaging methodology called Inhaled "Hyperpolarised Gas MRI" that uses lasers to 'hyperpolarise' a noble (inert) gas which aligns the nuclei of the gas so it shows up on an MRI scan.
The work will make 3D imaging using 'atomic spies' like helium, xenon, or krypton possible in a single breath hold by the patient. Nottingham has pioneered hyperpolarized krypton MRI and is currently advancing this technology towards the clinical approval processes.