When undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, patients need to be still for up to 10 minutes to get the best results. This can be challenging for most people, but children and people with disabilities often have additional obstacles to complete the procedure. Patient movement invalidates the scan and incurs expensive costs—to the tune of $4 billion a year in the US alone.
Currently, repeat scanning and anaesthesia are the most used options to solve this dilemma. However, repeat scanning wastes time and money, and anaesthesia—the preferred option for patients who are likely to move—adds both costs and potential risks to the patient, such as cognitive dysfunction.
“The need and demand for a simple solution to maximize image quality is clear,” Damien Fair, co-founder of NOUS Imaging and an associate professor of behavioural neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University, said in a statement.
Known as Framewise Integrated Real-Time MRI Monitoring (FIRMM), the technology helps healthcare professionals obtain better MRI scans for the brain by providing data quality metrics in real time. The motion tracking system, which does not need a camera or other hardware, helps the patient to self-regulate while assisting the MRI scan operator in making informed patient care decisions.
“The software aims to eliminate patient safety risks and save billions of dollars in wasted healthcare costs,” Nico Dosenbach, co-founder of NOUS Imaging and an assistant professor of neurology and radiology at Washington University School of Medicine, said in a statement.
Over 55 academic brain imaging centres are using NOUS Imaging’s technology. FIRMM has also played a crucial role in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, the largest, long-term study of brain development in the US.
FIRMM only originally worked with Siemens MR scanners; however, NOUS Imaging recently released an updated research version of FIRMM that is compatible with GE MR machines.
“We hope that with the addition of GE capability we can add to our existing number of FIRMM users,” said Todd Deckard, director of engineering. “This new software update coupled with the fact that we are the only camera-less motion monitoring technology provides the necessary foundation to grow our footprint in the industry.”
NOUS Imaging has raised $6.6 million in venture capital and government research investments, including funding from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme at the National Institute of Mental Health.