New Technology Helps Doctors Measure Fat in Organs

New technology is helping doctors figure out how much fat obese people carry in their pancreas.

Up until now, determining how much fat the pancreas holds has been impossible. But thanks to a new imaging technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center can measure it. This may someday help doctors identify a patient’s risk for diabetes.

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The technique, also called MRS, is a non-invasive procedure that is similar to magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. And whereas MRI can tell doctors, for example, the location of a tumor, MRS can tell doctors what kind of tumor it is and what kind of tissue it contains. And so this same technique can examine other organs, such as the pancreas. Using the new technology, doctors may soon be able to determine an obese patient’s risk of becoming diabetic and prescribe preventative therapies to reduce the chance of the disease.