MRI method detects progression of lung disease in children with Cystic Fibrosis before normal clinic

Researchers from POLARIS and clinical colleagues from Sheffield Children’s Hospital have shown that using a technique called ‘hyperpolarised gas MRI’, it is possible to measure the progression of lung disease in children with cystic fibrosis (CF), before the normal clinical tests can detect this progression.

Hyperpolarised gas MRI requires the participant to breathe in a small amount of gas which has high signal, whilst lying in a conventional MRI scanner. After breathing in the gas, the participant holds their breath and an image is taken of where in the lungs the gas reaches and, importantly in people with lung disease, where the gas doesn’t reach. This allows the location and pattern of lung disease to be seen (see image).

Images A & B show hyperpolarised gas MR images from a child with CF (A) at visit 1 and (B) 2 years later at visit 2 . White and grey areas show parts of the lung where the gas has reached. Black areas show the parts where gas cannot reach due to CF.

Measuring changes in the lungs of children with cystic fibrosis early on is essential so that the right treatments can be given as soon as possible. This will then allow the health of patients’ lungs to be maintained for as long as possible. This research has shown that using this type of lung MRI we can detect changes in lung disease that were previously undetectable. This may allow CF clinical teams to recognise and treat lung disease earlier than previously possible.

This study has been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201705-0894LE