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Craig H. Meyer, PhD has received a $100,000 Research Award from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation to develop a new real-time method for performing three-dimensional MR temperature mapping, a technique that could have a major impact on the safety, efficacy and procedural efficiency of focused ultrasound treatments.

“MR temperature mapping is an integral element of MR-guided focused ultrasound surgery. However, acquisition of the MR images required for calculating a temperature map is time consuming. At present, it is not possible using conventional non-accelerated MR techniques to acquire and reconstruct 3D temperature maps in real time,” explains Meyer, an associate professor of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology at the University of Virginia.

Today’s focused ultrasound treatments typically use two-dimensional real-time temperature mapping, which Meyer views as an “important limitation.” Another limitation, he notes, is that temperature maps can suffer from geometric distortion caused by magnetic field inhomogeneity. “This research project is targeting brain applications, and geometric distortion is inevitable in the brain due to the location of sinuses and leads to uncertainty about the location of hot spots.”

Meyer and his project collaborators – Max Wintermark, MD of the University of Virginia and Kim Butts Pauly, PhD of Stanford University – hypothesize that it is possible to acquire, calculate and display three dimensional temperature maps in real-time using advanced MR image acquisition and reconstruction methods that yield excellent spatial and temporal resolution and reduced geometric distortion.

“In this study, we will use spiral k-space scanning and a new accelerated MR technique that we have developed to acquire, reconstruct and display 3D temperature maps in real-time,” Meyer explains.

The project falls under the Research Awards Program’s high risk category, which supports early-stage, proof-of-concept projects that could have a profound impact on the advancement of the field of focused ultrasound and are unlikely to receive funding from other sources.