Cheap, Homemade MRI Does a Better Job Imaging Lungs Than the Real Thing

Are you one of the millions of Americans living without health insurance? If so, then you know how expensive hospital visits are, especially for fancy tests like MRIs. But hey, don't worry. If you need an MRI, you can always just use this makeshift MRI that was built using a cardboard tube, coils of wire, and other items that you can pick up at your local hardware store. The thing is, it really works.

Built by a couple of researchers at Harvard, the makeshift MRI was cost less than US$100,000 to make, but it does a better job of imaging the lungs than traditional MRIs do. That's because while traditional MRIs are great at imaging liquid within the body, the lungs are full of air, which doesn't come out in the scans. Not this hobbled together contraption; it uses a weak magnetic field to image aspects of the lungs that are invisible to all other imaging techniques.

So really, this is a very specialised MRI machine, albeit one that was essentially built in a garage by a couple of crazy geniuses. So no, you won't be able to go down the street to your neighbourhood mad scientist's shed to get an MRI on the cheap anytime soon, but it's a nice thought, isn't it? [Technology Review]