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How Facebook — yes, Facebook — might make MRIs faster

Facebook’s artificial intelligence lab is working with New York University’s medical school to make MRI exams 10 times faster, which, if successful, would allow radiologists to complete a test in minutes.

  @mattmcfarlandAugust 20, 2018: 11:14 AM ET

Doctors use MRI — shorthand for magnetic resonance imaging — to get a closer look at organs, tissues and bones without exposing patients to harmful radiation. The image quality makes them especially helpful in spotting soft tissue damage, too. The problem is, tests can take as long as an hour. Anyone with even a hint of claustrophobia can struggle to remain perfectly still in the tube-like machine that long. Tying up a machine for that long also drives up costs by limiting the number of exams a hospital can perform each day.

photo of high speed MRI machine for article, How Facebook -- yes, Facebook -- might make MRIs fasterComputer scientists at Facebook (FB) think they can use machine learning to make things a lot faster. To that end, NYU is providing an anonymous dataset of 10,000 MRI exams, a trove that will include as many as three million images of knees, brains and livers.

Researchers will use the data to train an algorithm, using a method called deep learning, to recognize the arrangement of bones, muscles, ligaments, and other things that make up the human body. Building this knowledge into the software that powers an MRI machine will allow the AI to create a portion of the image, saving time.

“You could be in and out in five minutes. It would be a real game-changer.” Daniel Sodickson, vice chair for research in radiology at NYU School of Medicine, told CNNMoney.

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