Two radiology professors at the University of Minnesota, Michael Garwood, PhD, and J. Thomas Vaughan, PhD, are creating an MRI system designed to image only specific areas of the body.

The current design resembles a helmet, which would make it possible for neurologists to take images of the brain while the patient is in motion, but the professors envision it being able to image all extremities. They believe the magnet will weigh only 800 pounds and cost less than traditional MRI systems.

Although the technology would be designed for neurologists initially, the smaller MRI would also be capable of traveling to developing countries to study brain imaging in other cultures. Ideally, it would run off the power of a small generator. Its developers are dreaming big.

“Maybe every breast center could have it, or maybe it would be low enough cost it could be in every shopping center and you could get screened,” Garwood said.