Once only possible in Star Trek medical scanners, Somaie Salajeghe has developed new software for the prototype of a portable, silent MRI. The device could be used in operating rooms, remote and rural locations—and even in space (photo by David Stobbe).

New software paves the way for portable MRIs

At one time, portable medical scanning devices existed only in Star Trek’s sick bays

But Somaie Salajeghe has designed and written new software for a prototype of a silent, portable MRI that can make medical imaging more accessible, especially in northern communities.      

“A portable MRI will have a large impact in the world,” said Salajeghe, a recent University of Saskatchewan PhD graduate in biomedical engineering. “The price for MRI exams is high. There are roughly two-month waiting lists in Saskatoon. In some parts of the world it’s too expensive to even have MRIs.”

A portable MRI could reach people in rural or remote areas with little access to medical imaging, and be used in ambulances, dental clinics and operating and emergency rooms, she said.      

“I anticipate that a portable MRI will be used for more diagnoses than MRI is now,” said Gordon Sarty, a U of S biomedical engineering professor and one of Salajeghe’s supervisors. “For example, instead of looking at broken bones with X-rays, we could use MRI without worrying about radiation.”

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