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CINCINATTI CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL IS USING INFANT MRI FOR ADVANCED DIAGNOSTICS

A modified 1.5 Tesla high-field MRI scanner is being used in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (CCH) for neonatal diagnostics. The novel device, although designed for orthopedic use, has an 18 cm gantry, which can accommodate up to 10lb (4.5 kg) on its modified patient table. The team of specialists took the best of worlds, incorporating hardware from adult-sized scanners as well as changing the magnet orientation. This makes the Cincinnati NICU (Neonatal intensive care unit) infant MRI a one-of-a-kind, and gives us a glimpse into the future of neonatal diagnostics.

The key problems that prompted researchers to develop such a device were infection and injury risk to fragile newborns. Usually, the neonates have to be transferred to an MR department, a tricky task, considering some prematurely born babies must be in incubators. This gives Cincinnati Children’s Hospital a great advantage in diagnostics and is proof that modifying an MRI machine is possible and effective.

"Our motivation for doing this work is that pulmonary morbidity accounts for a large fraction of our NICU patients," said research fellow Laura Walkup. "We don't have a clear picture of the underlying pathologies, and our ability to predict long-term outcomes is lacking. This is, in part, due to poor diagnostics for longitudinal monitoring."

The MRI protocol included 3D fast gradient-recalled echo (FGRE), fast recovery fast spin-echo (FrFSE), and periodically rotated overlapping parallel lines with enhanced reconstruction (PROPELLER) techniques.

Diagnostic Potential

The infant MRI scanner has the potential to diagnose and learn more about complex pediatric conditions like:

· Brain injuries from traumatic births

· Congenital diaphragmatic hernia and other congenital heart diseases

· Necrotizing enterocolitis and other gastrointestinal diseases

· Airway and esophageal disorders

· Rare lung disease

· Colorectal malformations

· Urogenital disorders

Currently, researchers at CCH are developing a transfer cradle with the ability to control temperature and humidity during MR scans, giving physicians full monitoring capabilities.

 

By Dr. Yuriy Sarkisov, BiMedis staff writer

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