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Advanced medical imaging drives innovations in all areas of clinical practice, from diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment to truly personalize the patient care experience.  At NorthShore, we focus our imaging research efforts at two facilities: the Center for Advanced Imaging, located within the Walgreen Building of Evanston Hospital, and the Center for Basic Magnetic Resonance Research, located in downtown Evanston. These facilities serve as key imaging resources for a variety of research projects conducted by the Department of Radiology, as well as imaging studies conducted by individuals in other departments at NorthShore and our partner academic institutions in the Chicagoland area.

The Center for Advanced Imaging (CAI)
The CAI features dedicated magnetic resonance (MR) research resources. Robert R. Edelman, MD, William B. Graham Chair of Radiology, a top physician in cardiovascular imaging, and an internationally-recognized leader in the development of advanced MRI techniques, heads our research team. At the forefront of MR angiography innovations, NorthShore investigators pioneered the recently FDA-approved QISS (quiescent-interval single-shot) technique that eliminates the need to give potentially harmful contrast agents or expose patients to ionizing radiation in order to evaluate the peripheral arterial system. Commercialization of QISS—licensed by Siemens Healthcare—is leading to the widespread global distribution of this innovative technique with major benefits to patients.

A multidisciplinary enterprise, the CAI provides a collaborative environment involving radiologists, clinicians, biomedical engineers, and scientists. Supported by the National Institutes of Health, industry sponsors and other funding sources, our investigators are engaged in cutting-edge research investigations.  Areas of inquiry include the development of advanced cardiovascular imaging tools, planning for minimally-invasive cardiac valve replacement, management of gene therapy patients, development of three-dimensional brain maps for improved surgical planning and understanding the causes and potential therapies for pelvic pain syndromes.  Our group is especially proficient in rapidly bringing new techniques from bench to bedside for the benefit of the NorthShore patient community.

Other ongoing imaging research focuses on:

  • Optimizing the use of MR imaging as an alternative to traditional CT scanning for characterizing peripheral vascular calcifications
  • Evaluating risk factors, new biomarkers and response to treatment in patients with chronic kidney disease using functional MR imaging methods such as blood oxygen-dependent (BOLD), perfusion and diffusion MRI.  We currently function as a CORE laboratory for evaluating kidney MRI on an NIH sponsored multicenter drug evaluation trial
  • Developing new image acquisition methods to detect and correct motion artifacts so as to improve the quality of vascular MRI
  • Using advanced MRI methods in utero to evaluate the risk of developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy in collaboration with Neonatology
  • Evaluating a possible role for vascular or metabolic dysfunction in menstrual pain using MRI methods in collaboration with Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Collaborating with Northwestern University investigators who are evaluating longitudinal changes in knee cartilage morphology in patients with osteoarthritis
  • Evaluating the utility of Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound  (ABUS) for patients with dense breasts in whom conventional mammography can be relatively ineffective on an industry-sponsored study

The Center for Basic Magnetic Resonance Research (CBMRR)
CBMRR investigators conduct a wide spectrum of basic research using high field strength MR imaging, providing critical resources to research projects throughout the NorthShore Research Institute.

Alice Wyrwicz, PhD, and her team are conducting several prominent studies. They recently pioneered an approach to measure the dynamics of tissue oxygen level in the brain in parallel with functional MR imaging and electrophysiological recordings. These techniques allow for analysis of how these signals change under various conditions. Similarly, they are using a variety of measures, including MR imaging, to study if a lack of oxygen in the brain can cause learning disabilities.

Collaborating with investigators in the Program for Personalized Cancer Care, the Department of Surgery and the Division of Gynecological Oncology, the CBMRR participates in a number of cancer imaging projects. Through these partnerships, the CBMRR developed an MR approach for the identification of more aggressive cancers, particularly in obese prostate cancer patients; studied tissue from breast cancer patients in an effort to improve the diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer; and investigated abdominal tissue from ovarian cancer patients to develop new diagnostics and therapeutics for ovarian cancer.

The CBMRR also has worked with the Departments of Neurosurgery and Pathology at NorthShore to investigate the association of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) /AD-like disease by employing other MR imaging techniques. Dr. Wyrwicz and PN Venkatasubramanian, PhD, from the CBMRR recently collaborated with investigators at Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center to investigate age-related gait disorders, sleep dysfunctions, spinal cord and neuromuscular disorders through MR imaging of brainstem, spinal cord and muscle.