New Brain-Scanning Software Could Be Good News for MS Patients
New software developed by doctors in Australia may detect new brain lesions in MS patients.
By Multiple Sclerosis Connect Staff September 14, 2015 1,814
Doctors may have a new tool at their disposal when it comes to diagnosing and treating patients with multiple sclerosis, thanks to researchers at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. According to the Australian Broadcasting Commission website, the hospital's scientists have developed new software that can detect small lesions in the brain. The software is able to compare and contrast previous brain scans, point out any irregularities to doctors, and notify them if any new brain lesions show up. The new technology could help doctors know sooner whether a drug treatment is working for their patients.
More thorough brain scans could make a world of difference to people coping with MS, since early detection and careful monitoring are important for treating the illness. While there's no cure for MS, treatment may slow the progress of the autoimmune disease, which affects motor skills and muscles among other things.
The new software can pinpoint even the smallest lesions to determine whether they're old or recent, making it easier for doctors who usually spent hours going through scans themselves to look for differences.
"It's similar to having a couple of Dalmatians running around and trying to spot if either of them has an extra dot or not," Dr. Frank Gaillard, the hospital's director of research, told the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
According to a study conducted by Gaillard and other doctors published in the June issue of the American Journal of Neuroradiology and reported on the ResearchGate website, it took the software an average of less than three minutes to detect new lesions in patients' MRIs.
"Instead of having to look at 200 lesions and identify[ing] one that might be new … your attention is drawn to the one that wasn't present before," Gaillard said. According to Gaillard, physicians will no longer have to "play spot the difference" with scans that don't match.
Doctors have already found the software to be effective, as it spotted irregularities in one in four people with MS that were thought to be stable. Gaillard's research also found that 79 percent of doctors polled said that they would make changes to how they treated their patients if they knew of new lesions.