Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging technology and biophysical modeling being developed at Emory and Georgia Tech could provide more accurate predictions of brain temperature, which is difficult for doctors to directly assess. The temperature of the brain is critical information after someone has experienced a stroke or cardiac arrest, and even more important during treatment.
The results of a pilot study were published today in the journal Communications Physics.
The project grew out of a collaboration between Candace Fleischer, PhD, an assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences at Emory, and Andrei Fedorov, PhD, a world expert on thermodynamics and biophysical modeling and a professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. The first author of the paper is Georgia Tech/Emory biomedical engineering graduate student Dongsuk Sung.
The researchers developed a biophysical model based on heat transfer, using data acquired byimaging individuals’ brain tissue and blood vessel structure. As predicted and in agreement with MR whole brain measurements, brain temperature is slightly higher than core body temperature – about 1 degree C; there are “hot” spots in the brain domains with high rate of metabolism; and the regions of the brain that are closer to the scalp are also slightly cooler than the midbrain.
“We find that every subject’s brain temperature and spatial temperature patterns are different, setting the stage for a personalized approach to managing brain temperature,” says Fleischer, who is also a faculty member in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering and Georgia Tech at Emory.
Researchers then compared the predictions of their model with measurements based on the magnetic resonance properties of water, which change with temperature, and the temperature-insensitive brain metabolite N-acetylaspartate. The Communications Physics paper shows temperature modeling and MR-based measurements for three healthy volunteers.
Fleischer recently received a three-year, $400,000 Trailblazer grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to monitor brain temperature while patients are undergoing therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest. More information about that here.
More brain temperature studies are planned on people who have serious medical conditions, since previous research has shown that brain and body temperatures are decoupled after injury. Fleischer says
the technology could be used to stratify and monitor patients during thermal therapies. Her team is also planning a study of patients who have experienced a transient ischemic attack. that
Co-authors of the paper include Georgia Tech senior research engineer Peter Kottke, and at Emory, Jason Allen, MD, PhD, associate professor of radiology and imaging sciences, Benjamin Risk, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics and Fadi Nahab, MD, associate professor of neurology.
The research was supported by Emory’s Department of Radiology & Imaging Sciences and the Center for Systems Imaging Core and Georgia Tech’s Rae S. & Frank H. Neely Chair held by Fedorov.