The Medical Imaging Laboratory deals with the processing of diagnostic images, allowing quantitative analysis of biological structures and processes in vivo, in the context of clinical and preclinical studies.
The areas of interest include:
- Development of novel techniques to segment and quantify anatomical structures and pathological lesions on diagnostic images in response to specific clinical needs
- Clinical validation of novel non-invasive imaging techniques to study physiology and pathophysiology
- Identification and validation of novel imaging biomarkers
- Investigation of morphologic and hemodynamic changes in different vascular districts and of hemodynamics role in vascular disease onset
Imaging of polycystic renal disease
This research line focuses on the development and application of novel techniques for the volumetric quantification and morphologic and functional characterisation of polycystic kidneys on diagnostic images acquired by computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The Medical Imaging Laboratory is involved in several clinical studies aimed at studying the efficacy of novel therapies for polycystic renal disease. In the context of these studies, the Laboratory assesses the drug effect on the progression of renal and hepatic, total and cyst volumes. Over the years, several semi-automatic tools have been developed to quantify both total and cyst volumes. A new fibrotic tissue component has been identified on contrast-enhanced CT images, and this has been shown to associate with renal function decline. Next aim is to use non-contrast enhanced MRI to non-invasively characterise the fibrotic tissue component and identify novel imaging biomarkers with high sensitivity to disease progression since the earliest stages.
Magnetic resonance imaging to investigate renal pathophysiology
This research line focuses on the standardisation and clinical validation of novel non-contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to investigate renal physiology and pathophysiology. The availability of novel magnetic resonance imaging techniques enables obtaining detailed information on renal structure and function during a single MRI acquisition session with no need for contrast media. However, acquisition and processing methods are heterogeneous among centres, making it difficult to compare results and to set ranges of normality. In the context of an international collaboration, the Medical Imaging Laboratory is actively involved in the standardisation of magnetic resonance imaging techniques, towards their clinical use for the management of patients with renal diseases. The Medical Imaging Laboratory is also involved in the identification and clinical validation of novel MRI biomarkers able to monitor disease progression since earliest stages and response to therapy, ultimately aiming to foster their clinical use.
Imaging of the artero-venous fistula for haemodialysis
This research line focuses on the investigation of blood flow in the artero-venous fistula for haemodialysis. Novel medical imaging technologies and recent developments in computational fluid dynamic techniques allowed to accurately depict the hemodynamics in the vascular access at the individual patient level, based on ultrasound and magnetic resonance examinations. Moreover, morphologic analysis of three-dimensional patient-specific geometric models allowed to investigate morphologic changes occurring in the vessels over time, following the vascular access creation. Based on these achievements, the Laboratory of Medical Imaging currently aims to investigate the association between hemodynamic and morphologic changes leading to artero-venous fistula failure.
Imaging of the carotid bifurcation
This research line focuses on the investigation of blood flow in healthy and stenotic carotid bifurcations. The novel Vector Flow Imaging technique allows in-depth investigation of the hemodynamics in the carotid bifurcation by ultrasound. However, the technique still has to undergo a careful validation before entering the clinics. By comparing Vector Flow Imaging with computational fluid dynamic techniques currently in use at the Laboratory of Medical Imaging, we showed that Vector Flow Imaging can depict in detail blood flow instability in the vessels. We are currently involved in the optimisation and validation of the novel ultrasound technique to foster its future clinical adoption.
Thoracic and cerebral imaging in COVID-19 pathology
This research line focuses on the investigation of short- and long-term effects of COVID-19 pathology, both in the lungs and in the brain. The Medical Imaging Laboratory has recently developed an image processing technique to quantify lung involvement on CT images, to objectively assess lung damage severity and its evolution over time in COVID-19 survivors. The Medical Imaging Laboratory is also involved in the processing of multiparametric brain MR images, to assess brain damage and its evolution over time in COVID-19 survivors.
International Consensus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.