MRI technology for tumour characterization

Technological applications have become commonplace in the medical world. Advanced equipment supports the medical specialist and also offers new insights into the health of the patient. But the integration of technology also comes with certain issues. The doctor that uses MRI-equipment, looks and thinks differently from the engineer that develops the technology.

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Sophie van Baalen conducts research, at the departments of Philosophy and Magnetic Detection and Imaging at the University of Twente, into the differences in the mindset of medical specialists and technological engineers. “Doctors often don’t know the difficulty of a certain technology and are mostly interested in the treatment of the individual. Engineers do not always have a complete image of the complex practicality in which a doctor finds him/herself and therefore are keen to learn more about the efficiency of the technology. Who the actual individual patient is, is less important to them. I’ve graduated from a Masters in Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society at the UT and are now recurring themes in my PhD. Eventually, I would like to develop a framework for better cooperation in clinical environments.”

Research into a new MRI-technology

Sophie works together with the urology and radiology departments of the Medisch Spectrum Twent and Twente University to develop a new MRI-technology. This so-called diffusion-weighted MRI is already used with brain scans, but could also offer a breakthrough for conduction research of the kidneys. “This technology allows us to analyse the movement of water particles in kidney tissue. That way you are able to visualize tumours. Currently, one usually opts to conducts a ‘normal MRI’ or CT-scan, which allows you to measure the size of the tumour and whether it is solid or not. Often, surgery is the chosen option. After that surgical procedure, the tumour is analysed and only then it is possible to tell, for sure, whether you are dealing with either good or malignant tissue. Our new technology has to prevent a surgery in some cases. We are now in the pilot-phase; patients are tested in the MST and the results are analysed by us at the UT. At the moment, it takes a couple of days per patient to conduct the research. To really be able to make the technology operational in a clinical environment, we are now working on the acceleration of that process.”


“I came to Twente to study because the University of Twente is the only university in the Netherlands offering Technical Medicine. Afterward I ‘stuck around’ because there is lots on offer here in Twente. You can combine several disciplines, like I do in my current job at the UT and at MST!” 

Date: 19 January 2017 |

Source of tekst: Medisch Spectrum Twente |