Improving access to MRI through portable ultra-low-field neuroimaging

František Váša Organizer
King's College London
United Kingdom
Niall Bourke Co Organizer
King's College London
United Kingdom
Monday, Jun 24: 9:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom 104-105 
Traditional high-field MRI (>1.5T) requires large and expensive scanners, supported by cryogenics and shielding. Recently, a 64mT portable ultra-low-field MRI scanner became commercially available, which runs using a standard electrical socket. This enables scanning at the bedside, out in the field, and in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) with limited access to high-field MRI.
This symposium will showcase the transformative potential of ultra-low-field MRI. We will first showcase the test-retest reliability of 64mT ultra-low-field MRI, and its correspondence to 3T high-field MRI, in a dataset of healthy adult participants (due to be made openly available). We will next demonstrate the relevance of portable MRI to study early neurodevelopment in LMICs. We will present results from a pilot randomized controlled trial in Uganda investigating the impact of a once-daily nutritional formula supplement on brain growth and global scales for early development (GSED) scores at 3, 6 and 12 months of age. We will also showcase a longitudinal study of 250 mother-infant dyads in Pakistan, aiming to assess neurodevelopment from early infancy (1 month) to 3.5 years and its association to modifiable environmental factors such as early child nutrition and maternal stress. Finally, we will share insights from an ultra-low-field MRI scanner that has been on the road for six months, within a mobile laboratory which also includes cognitive testing, genomics and other “mobile-ready” phenotyping approaches.
Taken together, symposium participants will learn about the timeliness and importance of ultra-low-field MRI for widening accessibility to neuroimaging in diverse contexts.


● Awareness of the potential of ultra-low-field MRI
● Relevance of ultra-low-field scanners for widening access to MRI in low- and middle-income countries
● Practical insights into MRI scanning in a mobile laboratory 

Target Audience

Any researcher or clinician, of any seniority, with an interest in magnetic resonance imaging. 


1. Portable ultra-low-field brain MRI: test-retest reliability and correspondence to high-field MRI

Ultra-low-field MRI scanners offer a cost-effective and portable alternative to high-field neuroimaging. We aimed to quantify between-scanner test-retest reliability of 64mT brain scans, and their correspondence to 3T MRI. We scanned 23 healthy adult participants on two Hyperfine 64mT scanners and a GE 3T scanner using T1w and T2w scans at multiple resolutions. We segmented all images into 98 structures and estimated their volumes. We demonstrate excellent reliability of volumetric estimates from ultra-low-field MRI, and high correspondence to high-field scans. The highest reliability and high-field correspondence was obtained using T2w ultra-low-field scans, super-resolved by combining three orthogonal acquisitions with low through-plane resolution. This enables quantitative analysis of cost-effective and portable neuroimaging in various contexts, including low-resource environments. 


František Váša, King's College London
United Kingdom

2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging to Assess the Neurodevelopmental Impact of the Environment in the Early Years (MINE): A Prospective Cohort Study Protocol from a Low, Middle-Income Country

The study aims to map child growth and neurodevelopment trajectories from early infancy (1 month) to 3.5 years in Karachi, Pakistan, using longitudinal MRI scans and neurodevelopmental assessments. The secondary goal is to explore relationships between modifiable environmental factors (e.g., early child nutrition, maternal stress) and evolving brain structure, function, and cognitive skills.
This longitudinal cohort study includes 250 mother-infant dyads divided into three groups based on infant age: Group 1 (1 month), Group 2 (3 months), and Group 3 (6 months). High Field MRI (3T) was performed on all participants, and ultra-low-field MRI was performed on 63 participants.
Neuroimaging data analyses include estimation of brain tissue volume, thickness and surface area, and subsequent correlation with neurocognitive assessments (GSED, RIAS, etc.) conducted at predetermined intervals, as well as associations with maternal and child health (micronutrient levels in blood and breast milk). 


Sadia Parkar, Aga Khan University
Paediatrics and Child Health
Karachi, Sindh 

3. Leveraging GANs for Super-resolution of Ultra-low-field Paediatric MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging is integral for assessment of paediatric neurodevelopment, however modern MRI systems are large and expensive. Recent ultra-low-field MRI systems such as the 64mT Hyperfine Swoop show great promise in widening accessibility to MRI in low-income settings. Imaging at such low field strengths comes at the cost of lower spatial resolution and signal-to-noise ratio, although these can be mitigated via deep-learning super-resolution. Here we investigate the effectiveness of conditional general adversarial networks (GANs) in enhancing the resolution of ultra-low-field images acquired from a paediatric population. 


Levente Baljer, King's College London London
United Kingdom

4. Genomics, and Biomarkers, and Mobile MRI, oh my! How to, and Why it is the perfect time to, take your neuroscience lab mobile.

In this presentation; Dr. Huentelman will discuss the following topics:
(1) the use of internet-based recruitment and study of cognition to enhance cohort size and diversity,
(2) the development of a mobile research laboratory to facilitate ease of research participation by underserved participants,
(3) the current and emerging remote and mobile phenotyping approaches that integrate effectively in a mobile laboratory
(4) the first preliminary glance at a multi-faceted research study utilizing a mobile laboratory that has been on the road for six months including low-field MRI, cognitive testing, genomics, and other "mobile-ready" phenotyping approaches.


Matt Huentelman, The Translational Genomics Research Institute Phoenix, AZ 
United States