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Method to produce CT-like 3D images of bones and hard tissue from MRI sequences



 Computed tomography (CT) is an imaging technique that enables 3D visualization of skeletal tissue. However, CT imaging exposes patients to hazardous radiation, which can be problematic for patients who require repeated scans or those in the pediatric population wherein the risks associated with radiation are greater.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is another imaging method that is widely used by clinicians. It exploits the magnetic properties of objects placed in a strong magnetic field to produce images by emitting radio frequency (RF) pulses to an object and detecting an RF “echo” from the object. Unlike CT, MRI does not expose patients to hazardous radiation, however, standard MRI sequences only visualize soft tissue. Current imaging sequences do not capture signal from bones because it is significantly shorter than the delay between the RF pulse and the detected echo. Recent ultra-short echo time methods have addressed this problem; however, they suffer from minimal contrast between soft and hard tissues. MRI scans are also inherently slower than CT scans as MRI data acquisition involves repeated measurement of the echoes obtained with minor changes in the total magnetic field in every repetition, which generates redundant data.



This method combines long echo and short echo 3D imaging methods to distinguish signals from hard and soft tissues. Furthermore, it achieves this with considerably shorter scan times by incorporating “compressed sensing”, a mathematical technique that uses prior knowledge from data acquisition to eliminate redundant data.




  • Bone and hard tissue imaging
  • Pediatric imaging


  • An alternative to CT imaging without the harmful effects of radiation 
  • Simultaneous imaging of soft-tissue (brain, cartilage, etc.) and bone structure
  • Near 10-fold shorter scan times than similar MRI protocols
  • Implementable on any MRI scanner

Stage of Development:

  • Methodology has been developed
  • Inventors propose to conduct additional clinical studies in humans

Intellectual Property:

Provisional filed


Reference Media:

Proceedings of ISMRM-ESMRMB, Paris, France, June 16-21, 2018


Desired Partnerships:

  • License
  • Co-development


Docket #: 18-8473

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Jeffrey James
Associate Director, PSOM Licensing Group
University of Pennsylvania
Felix Wehrli
Scott Bartlett
Hyunyeol Lee
Rosaline Zhang