Dr. Keith Brown works as a professor in the Occupational Therapy Department at Brenau University in the state of Georgia. The many years of valuable experience as a histologist and electron microscopist, have inspired this creative inventor and enthusiastic teacher to develop a novel technology for colorized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Image Analysis Inc., which is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, immediately acknowledged the use of coloured MRI scans for diagnostic purposes. The company did not hesitate to provide Dr. Brown with a $345,000 grant as part of a sponsored research agreement. The funding will support the refinement of the patented colorization method for commercial use within two years.
Professor Brown designed a special software system to combine layers of MR images into a colour composite on the personal computer. In the past, similar attempts to colour MRI scans remained unsuccessful since the process usually generated psychedelic tinctures which didn't look at all like the natural tissue colours in the human body. Dr. Brown succeeded at eliminating the "pseudo-colorization" problem. The new method electronically assigns authentic colours to each single type of protocol of the MRI scan. As a result, the composite colour image perfectly represents the unique colour characteristics of the human tissues, thus allowing a clearer and more efficient viewing of the internal body structures in the MRI scan.
Today, only grey scale images with subtle tinge variations are possible in MRI technology. Radiologists thus produce sheets of film with multiple grey-scale images for each tissue "slice". The correct diagnosis of a patient condition depends on the ability of the expert to detect variations of grey by comparing the different scans of each tissue slice. In many cases, the doctor has to analyse between 80 to 120 individual grey images in order to make an adequate diagnosis. Given the fact that the human vision merely allows the discrimination of about sixteen levels or intensities of grey, this task nearly becomes unfeasible. On the contrary, man is able to distinguish thousands of colours. This is why the use of coloured MR images should have a great influence on the efficiency, accuracy, and speed of diagnostic interpretation.
Colour will definitely change the future of MR imaging as the most advanced screening method for detailed visualization of the interior structures in the human body. Not only experienced radiologists will benefit from Dr. Brown's colorization technology, also primary care physicians and surgeons will get far more support from the interpretation of the colour composite for surgical planning. Colour MR images can even be used as an educational tool, as to closer involve the patient and his family in the treatment planning process. In addition, the software based colour technique holds in store an enormous potential for teleradiology and telemedicine applications in order to facilitate remote diagnostic imaging in any region where MRI technology is available.
At the moment, Professor Brown is generating an Internet service centre for the software system and collecting several case studies for the edition of a colour MRI Atlas. Professor Irma Alvarado is assisting him in a study project in MRI analysis for the Brenau occupational therapy graduate students, as to discover a possible correlation between brain anatomy and the behaviour of children with attention deficit disorders. Part of the grant received from Image Analysis will equally support the ongoing scientific research into brain activity and occupational performance as well as the improved sophistication of training resources for the students in the Brenau Occupational Therapy Department.