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Musculoskeletal Imaging Research Core (MIRC)

The Musculoskeletal Imaging Research Core (MIRC) provides Mass General and Partners investigators with streamlined access to research imaging.

Mission

The Musculoskeletal Imaging Research Core (MIRC) provides Mass General and Partners investigators with streamlined access to research imaging.

  • MIRC encompasses a wide array of imaging modalities and provides expertise in image acquisition, processing, display and data analysis.
  • We perform state-of-the-art imaging for body composition analysis, as well as high-resolution imaging of joints and soft tissues.

Contact

Musculoskeletal Imaging Research Core (MIRC)
55 Fruit Street - YAW 6048
Boston, MA 02129

Director: Martin Torriani, MD, M.Sc.
Phone: 617-726-7717
Fax: 617-726-5282
Email: mtorriani@partners.org

Education

Research fellows and assistants are an essential component of MIRC. We seek to work with highly motivated individuals, while providing a valuable and career-enhancing research experience. Our research fellows and assistants actively participate not only in our daily operations, but also in our scientific production. If you are interested in a remunerated research fellow or clinical research coordinator position at MIRC, please contact Director Martin Torriani, MD.

 MIRC staff members
Brad Barlow, BSc., Research Assistant (left) and Bijoy Thomas, MD., Research Fellow.

The Mass General MIRC has access to state-of-the-art technology in diagnostic imaging available at the Massachusetts General Hospital main campus, Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care, and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. Available equipment for research imaging includes:

MRI / MRS

  • 4 General Electric Signa 1.5 Tesla scanners
  • 2 Siemens Sonata 1.5 Tesla scanners
  • 2 Siemens Trio 3.0 Tesla scanners

CT

  • 5 General Electric Light Speed 16-slice MDCT scanners

 


Our research focuses on the use of sophisticated modeling and processing techniques to improve image quality. Some of our research projects include:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MR imaging techniques are available for researchers requiring high-resolution imaging of joints and soft tissues. Our staff provides expertise in design and implementation of imaging protocols, as well as close supervision during data acquisition.

We can modify or develop MRI acquisition protocols in order to address your specific clinical endpoint. Please contact us for further information.

 
3D SPGR 1-mm thick images of ankle (A) and knee (B) used for 3-dimensional reconstruction of cartilage surfaces.

Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS)

Proton MRS allows non-invasive quantification of muscle metabolites, such as lipids, total creatine, and choline. Using this methodology, we are capable of differentiating and selectively measuring lipids located inside or in between muscle cells. This technique has been widely employed as a surrogate marker for insulin sensitivity in studies examining type 2 diabetics, obese and HIV-lipodystrophy patients.

Our MRS data is acquired on GE or Siemens scanners at 1.5T or 3.0T field strengths, and is analyzed with validated softwares such as LCModel and jMRUI.

We can modify or develop MRS acquisition protocols in order to address your specific clinical endpoint. Please contact us for further information.

 MRS
Proton MRS spectrum of tibialis anterior muscle with peak fitting using LCModel (dark trace, fitted spectrum; thin trace, raw data; thin trace in top of figure, residual).
[1] IMCL (-CH3), intramyocellular lipid methyl protons at 0.9 ppm
[2] EMCL (-CH3), extramyocellular lipid methyl protons at 1.1 ppm
[3] IMCL (-CH2), intramyocellular lipid methylene protons at 1.3 ppm
[4] EMCL (-CH2), extramyocellular lipid methylene protons at 1.5 ppm
[5] TCr, total creatine (-CH3) resonance at 3.0 ppm
[6] TMA, trimethylamines, choline peak at 3.2 ppm

Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT)

QCT is a powerful method for assessment of body composition and bone mineral density (BMD).

Body composition

Using a single slice of the abdomen obtained at L4, a variety of adipose tissue compartments can be measured using dedicated software. Standard measurements include:

  • Intra-abdominal (visceral) fat area
  • Subcutaneous fat area
  • Total adipose tissue area
  • Total cross-sectional area
 QCT

Single slice of abdomen obtained at L4, showing tracings for total abdominal area (red), abdominal subcutaneous fat area (tissue between red and yellow), and visceral fat (green).

 

Bone mineral density

QCT is widely employed for determination of bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine. This methodology bypasses certain limitations of DEXA planar acquisitions, and allows reliable estimates of BMD. We obtain CT slices at 4 lumbar levels and measure vertebral body density calibrated by a standard phantom.

 Bone mineral density
CT slice showing measurement of attenuation values of vertebral body and standardized K2PO4 phantom for BMD determination.

 

We can modify or develop QCT protocols and measurement methodology in order to address your specific clinical endpoint. Please contact us for further information.