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Nanoparticle-Based Contrast for MRI Could Lower Radiation Exposure in Young People — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
February 19, 2014

Nanoparticle-Based Contrast for MRI Could Lower Radiation Exposure in Young People

By Joe Elia

A contrast agent that uses iron nanoparticles could potentially eliminate radiation exposure associated with staging cancers in young people, according to a small study in the Lancet Oncology.

PET/CT scans using standard radiolabeled deoxyglucose were compared with MRI scans using ferumoxytol (an iron supplement that contains iron nanoparticles). Each of the 22 patients studied (aged 8 to 33 years) underwent both types of scans.

Radiolabeled deoxyglucose exposed the patients to a mean 12.5 mSv of ionizing radiation (equivalent to over 500 chest radiographs); there was no radiation exposure with ferumoxytol. The tests showed "equivalent sensitivities, specificities, and staging results," according to the authors.

An accompanying comment tempers enthusiasm for reducing future tumors caused by radiation exposure, noting that the work is still preliminary and needs confirmation. In addition, the new technique's role in assessing treatment response and detecting recurrent cancers remains unexplored.

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