Work on MRI

In a 1971 paper in the journal Science [6], SUNY Downstate Medical Center professor Damadian reported that tumors and normal tissue can be distinguished in vivo by nuclear magnetic resonance ("NMR"). He suggested that these differences could be used to diagnose cancer, though later research would find that these differences, while real, are too variable for diagnostic purposes. Damadian's initial methods were flawed for practical use,[7] relying on a point-by-point scan of the entire body and using relaxation rates, which turned out to not be an effective indicator of cancerous tissue.[8] Nonetheless, in 1974, he received the first patent in the field of MRI when he patented the concept of NMR[9] for detecting cancer after filing an application in 1972. As the National Science Foundation notes, "The patent included the idea of using NMR to 'scan' the human body to locate cancerous tissue."[10] However, it did not describe a method for generating pictures from such a scan or precisely how such a scan might be done.[11]

Raymond Damadian's "Apparatus and method for detecting cancer in tissue."

In the 1950s, Herman Carr reported [12] creating a one-dimensional MR image. Prompted by Damadian's report on the potential medical uses of NMR, Paul Lauterbur expanded on Carr's technique and developed a way to generate the first MRI images, in 2D and 3D, using gradients. Peter Mansfield from the University of Nottingham then developed a mathematical technique that would allow scans to take seconds rather than hours and produce clearer images than Lauterbur had. While Lauterbur and Mansfield focused on animals and human limbs, Damadian built the first full-body MRI machine[7] and produced the first full magnetic resonance imaging ("MRI") scan of the human body, albeit using a "focused field" technique that differs considerably from modern imaging.

In recording the history of MRI, Mattson and Simon (1996) credit Damadian with describing the concept of whole-body NMR scanning, as well as discovering the NMR tissue relaxation differences that made this feasible.

[edit] First Human MRI Body Scan

On July 3, 1977, the first MRI body exam was performed on a human being (the first human scan was performed by Sir Peter Mansfield's team in Nottingham a year earlier - but this was a cross-sectional image through a finger rather than a body scan).

It took almost five hours to produce one image. The images were, by modern standards, rudimentary. Dr. Raymond Damadian, a physician and scientist, along with colleagues Dr. Larry Minkoff and Dr. Michael Goldsmith, labored tirelessly for seven long years to reach this point. They named their original machine "Indomitable" to capture the spirit of their struggle to do what many said could not be done... but no systems would ever use Damadian's method however. His technique of imaging was never made a practically usable method and has never been used in what is considered MR imaging as we know it today. His 1972 patent never described an imaging device but a method of "detecting" cancer... more of a Geiger counter approach for cancer 'detection'. Also, his patent followed on the heels of rumors already floating throughout the scientific community of Lauterbur's proposed idea of using NMR 'in vivo' (still in the human body... an imaging device) rather than Damadian's idea to use NMR as a 'in vitro' (or excised tissue) technique for differentiating cancerous from normal tissue. Damadian has continually argued that was what he meant but the truth is in the details. Damadian may have inspired Lauterbur's idea but Damadian did NOT invent MRI and careful review of Damadian's patent does not support his arguments (even the title of the patent states DETECTING); so, his 'FIRST body MRI' on July 3, 1977 is not actually the first MRI. It was his first attempt at a technique which was un-usable and ultimately abandoned even by him.

Nonetheless his machine, is now in the Smithsonian Institution. As late as 1982, there were but a handful of MRI scanners in the entire United States. Today there are thousands. It is possible to image in seconds what used to take hours but not using any of Damadian's imaging methods of "field focused nuclear magnetic resonance".

[edit] Fonar Corporation

In 1978, Damadian formed his own company, FONAR[13] (which stood for "field focused nuclear magnetic resonance"), for the production of MRI scanners, and in 1980, he produced the first commercial one. Damadian's "focused field" technology proved less effective than Lauterbur's gradient approach. His scanner, named "Indomitable," failed to sell. FONAR eventually abandoned Damadian's technique in favour of the methods adopted by Lauterbur and Mansfield.[14] Damadian and FONAR aggressively enforced the royalties on patents held by Damadian.[15] They settled with many large companies, but a case against General Electric went to the Federal Circuit, which upheld a $129 million ruling against GE for violation of Damadian's patents.[16] Damadian says that the judgment money has all been put back into FONAR for research and development purposes; he is the company's largest shareholder, with 8% of stock worth $6.5 million.[5] Despite owning only 8% of the stock, however, he maintains near 100% control of the company through a separate class of shares (Class C) that only Damadian controls (2007 shareholder proxy statement).

Damadian later collaborated with Wilson Greatbatch, one early developer of the implantable pacemaker, to develop an MRI-compatible pacemaker. He also invented a stand-up MRI system and has 15 MRI scanning centers across the United States.

The company conceived and built the world's first Upright Multi-Positional MRI, which was recognized as The Invention of the Year in 2007 by the Intellectual Properties Owners Association Education Foundation.[citation needed]

Copyright © 2006-17 Claud "Sonny" Rouch, all rights reserved. Website by OACYS Technology. Cover photo by Roberts Engineering.