Can MRIs Help Docs ‘See’ Diabetes Risks?

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 12:46 PM

By Nick Tate

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MRIs and other advanced imaging technologies may soon help doctors identify a patient’s body fat composition — a key factor in metabolic disorders associated with diabetes, as well as heart disease and cancer.

In a new report in the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, a team of specialists from University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, describe how new uses of noninvasive imaging tests — such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR), and positron emission tomography (PET) — are likely to play an ever-increasing role in evaluating and managing patients with diabetes by tracking body fat.

Assessing changes in fat composition and distribution in the body can provide doctors important information about a patient’s risk from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, said the scientists —Kavita Garg, M.D., Samuel Chang, M.D., and Ann Scherzinger.
Scans can also can also help distinguish between different types of fat, which can have different effects on metabolism and pose different disease risks. The research suggest such noninvasive imaging tests may even be able to replace the need for biopsies, aid in early disease detection, and identify abnormalities in tissues such as heart muscle before a disorder becomes symptomatic.
"Currently, imaging techniques are not routinely done in people with diabetes," says Viswanathan Mohan, M.D., a World Health Organization public health specialist, in an accompanying editorial.
With the increase in diabetes rates worldwide, Dr. Mohan noted: "The article by Garg et. al. is a trend-setter because this could change the way we routinely screen for these conditions in people with diabetes."

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