What is fMRI?
fMRI is a functional imaging method which allows the mapping of brain areas responsible for specific functions such as areas responsible for movement, vision, hearing and higher functions like language, consciousness and more.
The method is not invasive and not radioactive, so it also serves as research into brain processes even in test subjects who are not patients, including follow-up studies on the development of children. New fascinating, thought-provoking and imaginative discoveries about brain activity, done with the assistance of fMRI can be found today in almost every scientific journal and popular press.
What is the clinical use of fMRI ?
Beyond the research aspect, the clinical aspect of this imaging method is widely used around the world primarily as part of the preoperative assessment, for example in the domain of brain tumors. Beyond routine tests of MRI and CT, functional imaging enables the identification of brain areas responsible for different functions, even before the surgery to remove the tumor. According to the results of imaging, the surgeon knows in advance where the critical areas are relative to brain growth and so he is able to plan the surgery to avoid or minimize the damage. The imaging results are entered into surgical navigation systems, where the surgeon can make use of them during surgery for spatial orientation in the three dimensional space of the brain. These systems allow for accurate identification of tumor location and thus prevent the need to open the skull widely - bringing greater precision to reaching the surgical goal, reducing the duration of surgery and to preventing unnecessary complications.
fMRI testing is not a standard MRI that feeds to the device and generates the result, but a complex process that includes building a specific probe for each subject tested, running the test inside the device by a person trained for that, and analysis of the results by an fMRI expert who speciaizes in advanced analysis software.
Dr. Netta Levin, MD., PhD
Dr. Noa Raz, PhD.