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World's First Studies with Bedside Portable MRI in Pediatric ECMO Patients Demonstrate Safety and Efficacy

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 07 Apr 2023
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Image: A neonate receiving ECMO therapy is examined with the mobile MRI (Photo courtesy of UKB)
Image: A neonate receiving ECMO therapy is examined with the mobile MRI (Photo courtesy of UKB)

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a medical procedure that involves oxygenating the blood outside the body. Patients who require ECMO therapy are critically ill and may have lung failure, heart failure, or infections. Children who require this specialized procedure can only receive treatment at a specialized treatment center where they can be closely monitored. For this vulnerable patient population, it is often necessary to perform an MRI of the brain to assess relevant structures. However, transportation to a fixed MRI device is challenging for the treatment team due to the unique needs of ECMO patients during MRI diagnostics.

Now, a neonatology team at Bonn University Hospital (UKB, Bonn, Germany) has conducted the world's first study of children receiving ECMO therapy using mobile magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The findings of the successful, innovative study of the first four pediatric ECMO patients using the mobile MRI suggest that the scan can be performed safely without any problems. The patients in the study were a newborn, a two-year-old, a nine-year-old, and a ten-year-old child. The mobile MRI was used for routine examinations and for further diagnosis of abnormalities, such as oxygen deficiency at birth. To evaluate the image quality of the mobile low-field MRI, a comparison image was taken in the permanently installed normal-field MRI for each of the children examined.

The results of the study were more than satisfactory. While the image resolution of the mobile MRI was not as high as that of a stationary device, the image data obtained were suitable for emergency diagnosis and could be retrieved instantly. The researchers were able to identify brain hemorrhages, strokes, and acute changes, such as cerebrospinal fluid buildup, in the children examined thus far and commence the appropriate treatments immediately. For instance, one of the children being studied was diagnosed with a significant brain hemorrhage using the mobile MRI, and prompt treatment was provided.

“The new findings prove that the scan can be performed safely,” said Prof. Andreas Müller, Director of the Department of Neonatology at UKB. “We obtained meaningful MRI images of the brain without changing the position of the neck cannula and without compromising the children's safety status. This represents an immense success for future MRI examinations of newborns and larger children who can only survive through the use of ECMO therapy.”

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Bonn University Hospital 

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