Week 2: More Data Acquisition

Hi everybody! My mentor, Dr. Panda, had to leave for a conference in Florida this week, so I still have limited knowledge of the project details and specific timeline. I'm also thinking about several questions regarding my project, which I hope will be answered next week. In the meantime, I've kept myself busy with more data acquisition. Creating the data set is taking longer than I initially thought, but I expect to be done with it by the end of the week (disclaimer: I may have to process more cases in the near future). By going through the radiologist reports, I have also been able to learn more about the actual data that is reported. My initial impression is that some radiologists reports are incomplete, or lack a high level of detail. For example, I found at least one case where the radiologist report did not mention an endorectal coil, despite there being one present in the MR images. Other reports seemed vague, and this was especially a problem with cases where an endorectal coil was not used.

Besides the endorectal coil classification, all MRI cases fit into two categories: MRI exams with contrast and MRI exams without contrast. The contrast refers to gadolinium contrast media, which is basically a chemical dye used in MRI scans to enhance and improve the quality of the images produced. More specifically, it improves the resolution of internal structures, such as blood vessels, internal organs, inflammation sites, and tumors. Since gadolinium is toxic to the human body, the gadolinium ions are bonded with a chelating agent, which serves as a carrier molecule. This creates the contrast medium, which is then injected intravenously into the patient during the MRI exam, and later expelled by the kidneys. Interestingly, while contrast is typically used in around 1 in 3 MRI exams, the majority of the cases that I'm looking at use contrast. This makes sense, since MRI prostate exams need to look deeply into the body.

I also learned that there are currently 9 Gd (gadolinium) chelated contrast agents approved by the FDA: gadoterate (Dotarem), gadodiamide (Omniscan), gadobenate (MultiHance), gadopentetate (Magnevist), gadoteridol (ProHance), gadofasveset (Ablavar), gadoversetamide (OptiMARK), gadoxetate (Eovist), and gadobutrol (Gadavist). I do not know which of these contrasts are used in the cases I'm examining, although Magnevist and MultiHance are the most stable contrasting agents, and Magnevist is most extensively used. However, Dotarem (which utilizes the organic acid DOTA as its chelating agent) is growing more popular with MRI prostate exams. Dotarem was originally developed for neurological MRI purposes because it does not deposit residue in the brain, and is therefore supposed to be safer, especially for children. It will be interesting to further investigate the usage of different contrasts in the prostate cancer MRI protocol at Mayo Clinic.

My top priority for next week is to learn more about Mayo's prostate cancer MRI protocol. As part of this goal, I may need to shadow the MRI technicians again during a prostate cancer MRI exam. I'm also eager to start my programming and computational work. Furthermore, I will do some literature reviews over the weekend and throughout next week in order to gain a greater understanding of current research.


  1. There was a problem with the comment section but it is fixed now.

  2. Hello Anthony! I too am very excited for the programming part of your project. Anyways, how do you deal with vague reports? Are many of the reports vague? Would that cause problems for your data if they were? Would it cause problems for patient care?

  3. Hi Anthony! Your research is very interesting, and it sounds like continuing shadowing more technicians and doctors will provide great insight. As for the vague radiologist reports, what do you believe causes the radiologists to be more unclear in reports? I hope you're able to find out more about Mayo's MRIs and what contrasts agents are being used.

  4. Hi Anthony,
    It sounds like you research is going well. All the information you provided about the MRI is very interesting, and its sounds like the information will be helpful in your future research. I'm really excited to hear about the MRI protocol. Good luck!

  5. Hi Anthony.
    I found it really interesting that the radiologist reports have been vague, I would have expected them to be extremely detailed. How do you deal with reports missing information that others have? How does it affect your data sets? Also, I am glad to hear that doctors are trying to use Dotarem to avoid harming the patient. It seems like your research is going well, I cannot wait to hear more!
    Zafeerah Sheikh

  6. Hi Anthony. What you are learning is incredible! I have had so many MRI's and always wondered how they worked and what chemical they were using as a contrast. How much of this did you already know before you started this project?

  7. Hi Anthony! sorry i could not comment sooner. could you explain gadolinium a little more? thank you!


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