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Mini MRI Now Available For Babies

Update Date: Jan 25, 2017 08:30 AM EST

There are only two miniature MRI scanners in the world and one has been installed at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. It is a smaller version of the standard MRI scanner and only takes little space.

Compared to ultrasound results used to scan newborn baby's brains, the mini MRI results were found to be better. It showed structure of the brain and abnormalities more clearly according to Professor Paull Griffiths of the University of Sheffield.

Griffiths, a Professor of Radiology and Martyn Paley, Professors of MR Physics, both from University of Sheffield, have been working on this concept and design for about 12 years. The professors were in collaboration with GE Healthcare who built the mini MRI scanner with the funding of Wellcome Trust according to The Star.

The other prototype of the 3 Tesla neonatal mini MRI scanner has been tested in Boston Children's Hospital in Massachusetts. However, it is no longer in use.

MRIs are rarely performed on premature babies because the risks in transferring and handling the sick infant outweigh the benefits. 

Prof Griffiths said "MRI machines are huge, heavy objects which are sited in the basement or ground floor of hospitals, whereas maternity units are usually higher up, or in a completely different building, so it can mean a complicated journey to get a baby to and from the scanner."

Currently the mini MRI scanner has been situated in the neonatal area near the maternity ward. Premature newborn babies no longer need to be transported or transferred to main radiology departments elsewhere. The neonatal unit was specially designed to scan babies quickly and with ease. This will help avoid any difficulties with transfers.

BBC reported by proving the quality of their images, data and clinical benefits, the scanner is hoped to be granted approval to enable it to be used in hospitals if the research becomes successful. This can help routine scans clinically available for newborns in the coming years.

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