MRI-Compatible Incubator Allows High-Quality Neonatal Imaging

Laurie Barclay, MD

February 11, 2004

Feb. 11, 2004 — A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)–compatible incubator affords safe and good- to excellent-quality MRI in neonates, according to the results of a study published in the February issue of Pediatrics.

"MRI of the neonate is important clinically, because this group of patients often has complex and multiple problems due to prematurity and developmental abnormalities," write Elspeth H. Whitby, FFDRCSI, from the University of Sheffield, and colleagues. "MRI usually involves moving neonates away from their controlled environment to the scanner."

Without sedation or anesthesia, seven neonates were imaged at 1.5 T using single-shot fast-spin echo, three-dimensional Fourier transfer gradient echo, and diffusion-weighted sequences. Four neonates also had time-of-flight angiography. During scanning, which lasted 10 to 21 minutes, all seven neonates were stable. All of the images were graded as excellent or good quality by experienced observers.

"Fast imaging methods and a dedicated MR-compatible incubator with coil allows safe and efficient MR imaging of the nonsedated neonate, providing essential information and aiding management," the authors write. "The constant environment reduces the risk of adverse events occurring during the transport and imaging of the neonate."

Remaining problems with this technique, according to the authors, are that the neonate is not easily visible from the control room. Having a staff member in the room makes the scanning safer. Although the incubator controls temperature and humidity, electrocardiography and oxygen saturation require additional monitoring.

"Additional development is ongoing to overcome these problems and improve image quality," the authors write. "However, the availability of this incubator will allow many institutions to image the neonate by MR and obtain information useful for clinical management."

Coauthor Torsten Lonneker-Lammers is the director of Lammers Medical Technology, manufacturer of the incubator, and coauthor Ravi Srinivasan is the director of Advanced Imaging Research, manufacturer of the coil.

Pediatrics. 2004;113:e150-e152

Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD


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