New York: In a first, researchers have shown that doctors can effectively identify bone marrow cancer (myelofibrosis) using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
The findings, in an experimental model and published in the journal Blood Cancer, may change the way this disease is diagnosed which is now through invasive bone marrow biopsies.
"Our study provides proof-of-concept that this non-invasive modality can detect pre-fibrotic stages of the disease," said lead researcher Katya Ravid, Professor at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) in the US.
"It is intriguing to speculate that future pre-biopsy MRI of the human pathology might guide in some cases decisions on if and where to biopsy," she added.
Bone marrow cancer is a slow evolving condition hallmarked by increased myeloid cells and in the case of primary myelofibrosis, with an excessive number of large bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes.
The pathology also is characterised by a structural abnormality of the bone marrow matrix, which at end-stage manifests in excessive deposition of reticulin fibres and cross-linked collagen in the bone marrow, suppression of normal blood cell development and bone marrow failure.
Currently, the diagnosis is made via an invasive bone marrow biopsy and histopathology to assess cellularity and reticulin deposition in the marrow, the researchers said.
In this study, the researchers designed and tested whether a T2-weighted MRI could detect bone marrow fibrosis in an experimental model.
The researchers said they were able to show that an MRI could detect a pre-fibrotic state of the disease with a clear bright signal, as well as progressive myelofibrosis.
The investigators proposed that the abundance of large bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes contribute to the signal.