Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a method that has been used in the neurosciences for a few decades now. It’s particularly useful in research because it uses magnetic radiation, which is harmless, compared to ionising radiation like x-rays and CT scans. It has been an incredibly useful tool for neuroscientists to help us understand the structure and function of different parts of the brain, but MRI is not just used to examine brains. In fact, MRI can be used to accurately portray 3D images of any part of the body, including arteries.
A recent article in Brain and Behavior describes a relatively new MRI technique called “High resolution MRI (HRMRI)”, which was used to examine intracranial arteries. Previous MRI techniques weren’t very good at identifying plaque (the stuff that builds up in arteries and causes strokes and heart attacks) in intracranial arteries because they are so close to cerebrospinal fluid, and until now, the resolution has not been high enough to distinguish the edges of the arteries. But this paper successfully used the new HRMRI technique to get really clear images of plaque build-up in one person’s intracranial arteries. This means that this new technology will be able to help diagnose strokes, and even predict plaque build-up before it becomes a stroke.
You can read the entire article and see some pretty cool images here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/brb3.103/pdf