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Merlina Trevino; Diagnostic Imaging Online July 7, 2004;© 1996 – 2004 CMP Media LLC, a United; Business Media company


One size does not fit all when it comes to imaging newborns. Customized MRcompatible incubators with integrated head and body radio-frequency coils designed for neonates proved to be safe and provided higher quality images than standard imaging equipment, according to a study published in the May issue of Radiology. MR imaging for newborns has required lengthy, intensive preparations, and many systems come with RF coils designed for adults. Yet for many applications, in particular softtissue imaging, MR is simply the best tool, said lead researcher Stefan Blüml, Ph.D., an associate professor of radiology research at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. Researchers used the incubator with 13 neonatal patients already scheduled for an MRI exam who ranged in age from four to 12 weeks. Exams included nine brain, two cardiac, and two pelvic. Patients undergoing brain imaging also had MR spectroscopy performed. All brain MRI and MRS images were compared to images of six age-matched controls performed with standard equipment.

Laurie Volkin and Richard S. Dargan, Contributing Writers ASTR; Newswire May 05th, 2004


An incubator that is compatible with magnetic resonance is safe for examinations of ill newborns and yields excellent MR images, according to a new study. MR imaging is the most desirable imaging test for many newborns because there is no exposure to radiation, according to researchers. However, many sick newborns cannot undergo MR because of concerns for their safety during transport and during the procedure.

Shalmali Pal; April 30th, 2004


Investigators have successfully used imaging on adults who survived preterm birth; neurological scans performed on infants, while they are still in the danger zone, is much trickier. MRI may offer the best way to effectively diagnose certain pathologies in these children.

MRI incubator: “There have been several attempts to overcome the problem of imaging the neonate, including dedicated scanners on neonatal intensive care units,” wrote Dr. Elspeth Whitby from the section of academic radiology at the University of Sheffield and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, both in Seffield. “However, (these scanners) are not widely available and may be restricted in their image sequences.”

Laurie Barclay; Pediatrics. 2004;113:e150-e152


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.” (113:e150-e152)

Elspeth H. Whitby, Paul D. Griffiths, PhD, Torsten Lonneker-Lammers, Ravi Srinivasan, PhD, Daniel J.A. Connolly, FRCR, David Capener, BSc, Martyn N.J. Paley, PhD; Pediatrics Vol. 113, No. 2, February 2004, pp. e150-e152.


Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the neonate is important clinically, because this group of patients often has complex and multiple problems due to prematurity and developmental abnormalities. MR imaging usually involves moving neonates away from their controlled environment to the scanner. Objective. In this study we present the results of our initial experience with an MRcompatible incubator used on a 1.5-T system.

Methods. Seven neonates were imaged at 1.5 T without sedation or anesthesia. Images were obtained by using single-shot fast spin echo, 3-dimensional Fourier transfer gradient echo, and diffusion-weighted sequences. In 4 cases, time-of-flight angiography was performed.

Results. All 7 neonates were stable throughout the scan time (10-21 minutes). Experienced observers graded the images for quality, and all were graded excellent or good. In no case was the image quality poor. Conclusion. Neonates can be imaged safely by using an MR-compatible incubator and fast image sequences. This method should allow neonates to be imaged by MR in sites at which a dedicated neonatal MR scanner is not available.

Stephan G Erberich, Philippe Friedlich, Istvan Seri, Marvin D Nelson Jr. and Stefan Blüml; NeuroImage 20, 2003: p 683-692; © 2003 Elsevier Inc.


Structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging of the newborn brain is a complex and challenging task. Term and preterm neonates require a controlled microenvironment and close monitoring during the MRI study to maintain respiratory and cardiovascular functions, body temperature, and fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. In addition, to minimize motion artifacts, most neonates also need to be sedated, which carries the risk of respiratory depression compromising the neonate's ability to maintain appropriate ventilation and oxygenation during the procedure.

Finally, because of their small head size, the use of the standard MR head coils results in suboptimal picture quality in the neonate. Thus, these limitations affect our ability to obtain both high quality structural and functional MRI studies. To overcome these difficulties, we have utilized an MR compatible incubator with a built-in radiofrequency head coil optimized for the neonatal brain volume. In this study we demonstrate that functional MRI and high-resolution structural MRI of the newborn brain can be achieved with this novel design. The use of this equipment offers potential for studying the development of the preterm and term neonatal brain and obtaining state-of-the-art, high-resolution structural and functional imaging in this most vulnerable patient population.