New MRI Technique Takes ‘Movies’ of Wrists in Motion

A new MRI method, called ‘Active MRI’, can capture video of the movements causing wrist pain. According to Robert Boutin, a professor of radiology at UC Davis, the super-fast images are like a live-action movie and can be slowed, stopped, and reversed by MRI technologists at any time. New patients can reproduce the motions that are bothering them while inside the scanner, and physicians can assess how the wrist is working and what is causing the pain.

Wrist instability occurs when carpal bones become misaligned. This can affect joint function, and is often the result of trauma that injures the ligaments between wrist bones. Better management of the condition are more likely to occur if diagnosis is made early, and in cases where less invasive treatments are possible. Methods, such as Active MRI, can diagnose problems early and help patients avoid these treatments.

For the current study, Active MRI was tested on 15 writs of 10 subjects with no symptoms of wrist problems. Their wrists were imaged as they performed typical motions, such as clenching the fist, rotating their wrist, and waving their hands from side to side. Typically, MRI scans last at least 30 minutes and require the patient to sit very still. Active MRIs last about ten minutes and allow MRI technologists to look inside the body while it’s in action.