Skip to main content
Skip header

Prototype Sensory Mat Promises Faster and More Enhanced MRI Scans

Prototype Sensory Mat Promises Faster and More Enhanced MRI Scans
Researchers at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, VSB-TUO, in collaboration with the University Hospital Ostrava and Tecpa, have developed a sensory mat that can make MRI examinations faster and more efficient.

Thanks to the support of the recently completed project under the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness, researchers have a prototype sensor system that has been successfully tested in a semi-operational clinical setting. If implementated in regular practice, it could lead to quicker patient exams and more precise diagnostic information for doctors.

"Our system is able to detect heart and breathing activity without the measured signals being interfered with by the strong magnetic field. We are thus able to reliably guide the MRI scanning, shortening and streamlining the examination.  In addition to being able to guide the imaging of the heart, we are also able to do the same for the imaging of organs in the abdominal, thoracic or pelvic cavity. The system is built into a mat that is placed on the examination bed and can work with any MRI machine," said Jindřich Brablík, a key member of the research team, from the Department of Cybernetics and Biomedical Engineering at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (FEI).

Getting an MRI of the heart demands that the patient is absolutely still, with the system even searching for tiny moments of the heart at rest. Beyond this, it must deal with interference from the machine’s magnetic field. The current ECG monitoring method has its shortcomings in dealing with these challenges. It involves attaching electrodes to the patient's chest, which can be uncomfortable and prolong the exam. For tracking respiratory activity, a respiratory belt is used, which needs precise placement. On the contrary, a sensor mat can eliminate these disadvantages and limitations.

"The mat detects the patient's vital signs, and we use this information to guide the MRI scan. Essentially, we tell the MRI when to gather data to ensure the resulting image is of excellent quality, aiding doctors in making diagnoses," explained Radek Martinek, the team leader and Vice-Dean for Science and Research at FEI. This mat, also known as "lounger", has dimensions of 110x47 centimetres, and the technology is already protected by a Czech patent.

Several years of research began with the idea of creating a functional sensor-equipped mat or lounger. This required the development of a sensing system, transmission lines, and the necessary software for a computing unit that can analyse data and instantly transmit the trigger signal to the MRI machine. A collaborative effort among software engineers, mechanical engineers, and doctors led to the device's development. Notably, the mat can be customised to fit a patient's physical proportions.

"We have published several articles in prestigious impact journals, successfully completed a two-and-a-half-year research project, and, most importantly, have a functional mat that has been tested in a semi-operational setting. Currently, we are working on obtaining certification and our future efforts will focus on automating the system setup for specific patients without manual intervention. Our next goal is to integrate this technology into medical practice, where the introduction of new techniques may present some challenges," added Brablík, who successfully defended his dissertation on the topic of Gating of MR Data Acquisition Using Sensors Without the Need for Fixation to Patient’s Body in June. He will continue his research as an assistant professor in the Department of Cybernetics and Biomedical Engineering.

Previously published results show that the use of the "lounger" can reduce examination time by three to five minutes. This would allow doctors to examine more patients per day and reduce waiting times. Additionally, the mat, equipped with highly sensitive sensors, could potentially monitor vital signs in premature infants.

Created: 26. 7. 2023
Category:  Official statements
Entered by:  Administrator
Department: 9920 - Public Relations