Welcome to our newly formatted quarterly update! We're thrilled to share some great news and updates with our CAMRI community.
Firstly, we are excited to share that we have recently upgraded our 3T MRI scanner from the Skyra to the Vida with a whole suite of new clinical and research capabilities, continuing our strong relationship with Siemens.
In this issue, we spotlight Anna Lydon, CAMRI's charge tech, and her journey in the industry, her passion for cardiovascular imaging, and her valuable contributions to CAMRI's success.
We're also delighted to report on our recent successful hosting of the 2023 Diffusion MRI Neuroanatomy and Tractography Workshop. The event spanned three days, and attendees had the opportunity to learn from some of the scientific leaders in the field. We capped off the event with a wine and cheese networking evening held in our facilities.
Finally, we want to regularly update you on some of the ongoing research studies at CAMRI. One project we're particularly excited to highlight in this issue is the COOLHEAD study which explored whether brain cooling can delay or prevent is chaemic damage before clot retrieval in stroke. The study was led by Dr Will Diprose and Professor Alan Barber, using novel MRI methods available at CAMRI.
Dr David Dubowitz | Director
The 3T Vida scanner is a high-performance machine that will continue to keep us at the forefront of clinical and research work. It offers improved capabilities, including a new look and operating system. CAMRI was first in New Zealand to receive the latest XA50 software from Siemens. This new software opens up a world of possibilities for advanced imaging solutions to clinical and research problems, allowing us to also offer work-in-progress imaging packages developed by Siemens scientists and imaging software created by research collaborators around the world for advanced research and clinical MRI.
Our updated infrastructure has allowed for the improvement of our imaging capabilities, ensuring our clients receive faster and higher-quality images. We have also invested in new RF coils that allow us to do a whole array for specialist imaging. Additionally, we have updated essential equipment for our clinical work and improved the look and feel of the whole facility.
When it comes to medical procedures, anxiety can be a major concern. However, at CAMRI, our upgraded facility provides comfort and ease as the focal points of the patient experience. A local artist, Lucy G, was commissioned by CAMRI to create backlit panels featuring New Zealand flora and fauna, immersing patients into a relaxing and inviting environment. On top of the latest MRI improvements our facility continues to offer movie and audio entertainment in the scanner. This is a popular option among patients, especially children, as it provides a source of distraction and enjoyment while receiving the MRI.
As a part of our ongoing effort to provide a smooth and seamless patient experience, we are currently working on upgrading our branded wayfinding to make navigating to our facility, whether from the hospital or from outside, an easy and hassle-free process.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a big role in the new scanner, allowing for faster imaging with better resolution. This is especially valuable in the paediatric setting, where children have a limited tolerance for longer scans.
Thanks to the support of Siemens Health Science engineers and application specialists, along with the CAMRI team and Uniservices, the upgrade to the 3T Vida MRI machine was successfully achieved despite many challenges from COVID and delays in the global supply chain.
A welcoming ceremony was held, led by Rangatira Michael Steedman, Pro Vice Chancellor (Maori) at WaipapaTaumata Rau - University of Auckland, to celebrate the completion of theupgrade and the hard work of all involved. The ceremony was attended by the CAMRI team, senior Uniservices, and Auckland University leadership.
As we continue to utilize the upgraded scanner, we are dedicated to keeping our community informed and updated on our capabilities and research directions.
Anna Lydon is CAMRI's charge medical imaging technologist who also leads much of CAMRI's advanced research implementation too. As a medical imaging professional, she began her career as a radiographer in angiography but found her passion in MRI. Her journey to CAMRI started when she was introduced to cardiac MRI at Manukau Radiology in Middlemore, where she became excited with the non- invasive and detailed imaging of the heart. This led her to join the University of Auckland's new MRI Centre (CAMRI), which had a focus on cardiovascular imaging, in 2004. Anna's initial role at CAMRI was to promote the research use of MRI, and CAMRI has retained this dual focus on advanced clinical work and advanced research work since then.
Anna enjoys working with the team at CAMRI and retains her special interest in cardiovascular imaging, one of the Centre’s specialties. She has contributed to scientific research and advancements in cardiac and vascular imaging. Anna's proudest achievement is her contribution to advancements in non-contrast vascular imaging. This has led to positive outcomes for patients who previously could not have imaging due to poor renal function.
Anna works closely with the ANZ chapter of SMRT as their Secretary to promote MRI education throughout Australia and New Zealand. She has presented at conferences overseas with the latest advancements in her field and has collaborated with Siemens to bring new technology to CAMRI.
Anna has been contributing to various more unusual projects too. She has been involved in a study of a mummified Moa head and neck conducted by Professor Martin Wild at Auckland University. Furthermore, she has also been involved in the imaging of meerkats for the Auckland Zoo.
Since joining CAMRI, Anna's role has evolved from managing research to becoming the Charge Technologist. She has gained new insights and expanded her skill set, making her a valuable asset to the team and to researchers. She finds it remarkable how quickly technology has advanced since she joined the team, and she embraces the challenges and opportunities to learn and grow.
CAMRI, in collaboration withWaipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, and Natbrain Lab at the Universityof London, recently hosted a three-day Diffusion MRI Neuroanatomy andTractography workshop. The practical workshop took place from 22nd-24th Februaryand was attended by 30 participants from around New Zealand andAustralia. It was facilitated by distinguished guest speakers Dr AhmadBeyh and Dr Flavio Dell'Acqua, both of whom travelled from King's College London to teach the workshop, and was supported by a Catalyst Fund Leadersgrant from Royal Society NZ.
In addition to the workshop, the Catalyst grant funding awarded for Dr Dell’Acqua’s visit, aims to catalyse scientific interactions between overseas experts and New Zealand researchers, as well as promoting the establishment of a network of researchers both within New Zealand and overseas.
The workshop was designed for research students, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists and clinicians to learn how to use tractography and to analyse brain connections using diffusion MRI. It also featured hands-on sessions where participants were able to apply the techniques they learned to analyse the irown diffusion MRI data with the instructors.
The first evening of the workshop included a wine and cheese networking event hosted at CAMRI. This provided an opportunity for participants to network and interact with one another in a more relaxed setting. CAMRI also held tours of their facility, showcasing their state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.
Overall, the Diffusion MRI Neuroanatomy and Tractography workshop was a resounding success with a 95percent recommendation rate.
This inaugural workshop by CAMRI marks the beginning of a new initiative to showcase the advanced capabilities of CAMRI through live events.
Looking forward, CAMRI has further symposia planned including a 2024 Diffusion Neuroanatomy MRI and Tractography workshop.
Endovascular clot retrieval(ECR) dramatically improves outcomes in patients with an ischaemic stroke. This minimally invasive procedure involves inserting a tube through an artery in the groin and positioning it in the affected arteries of the brain to remove the clot following a stroke.
The brain is highly sensitive to progressive damage during a stroke, and immediate restoration of the impacted blood supply is critical. Delaying treatment may result in worse outcomes. However, the clot retrieval procedure for stroke treatment is only currently available at three centres throughout New Zealand. For patients outside the catchment area, inter-hospital transfer can increase the time it takes to receive treatment.
Cooling the brain, shows promise as an effective neuroprotective strategy to slow the progression of the infarcted region while awaiting treatment. A pragmatic approach is non-invasive head cooling that could be initiated before arrival at the hospital, such as in a helicopter, and maintained during transfer until the clot can be removed.
The COOLHEAD research study, led by Dr Will Diprose and Professor Alan Barber(Professor of Clinical Neurology and Clinical Lead for stroke at Te Whatu Ora,Auckland) investigated whether a “cooling cap”, could cool the brain over typical hospital transport times. The first step was to verify that the cooling cap was able to cool deeper brain structures, beyond the scalp. Measuring the internal temperature of the brain itself is challenging, and even with MRI it is not a routine practice. However, CAMRI were able to come up with some innovative MRI solutions for this.
For this study, a novel method known as Echo-Planar Spectroscopic Imaging (EPSI) was employed for temperature mapping. This spectroscopic technique relies on measuring changes to the characteristic properties of water and other chemicals. In MR spectroscopy, water has a unique resonance frequency in the MRI scanner that is temperature dependent. This differs from other metabolite chemicals in the brain, which have resonance frequencies that are not impacted by temperature. By measuring the frequency difference between water and other brain metabolites through MR spectroscopy, temperature changes can be determined.
Dr. Catherine Morgan, CAMRI's MRI physicist, worked with developers of the imaging sequence at the University of Miami to facilitate brain temperature measurements specifically for this project. This generated 3D temperature maps of the brain at 8-minuteintervals. Implementing these types of novel MRI techniques is one of the unique resources that CAMRI offers to support researchers.
The cooling cap was tested in healthy participants and recovered stroke patients.
Six healthy volunteers hadthe head cooling device applied for 120 minutes to test the tolerability of the cooling cap. Brain temperature was measured via MRI both before and during the head cooling. Regular blood pressure and body temperature were also measured.
In a second study, six stroke survivors were enrolled in a trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the cooling cap. Participants underwent a baseline MRI scan and were then seated outside the MRI scanner as the cooling cap was applied for up to an hour. Following this, a post-cooling EPSI scan was conducted while the head cooling was maintained.
Both healthy volunteers and stroke patients reported that the cooling cap was well tolerated, and it resulted in a significant decrease in brain temperature, of approximately 1°C in both groups. While this is a relatively modest temperature change, this may be sufficient to help reduce the metabolic demands of the brain and potentially delay brain damage prior to stroke treatment. Further investigation of its efficacy in an acute clinical setting is now planned.
Want to find out more? Here's some further reading
More details on the “COOLHEAD” study can be found in the recently published article here.
A review of MRI thermometry methods can be found here.