Who knew MRIs could be cute? Researchers from the University of Sheffield, GE Healthcare, NHS Foundation Trust, the Sheffield Teaching Hospital, and the Wellcome Trust collaborated to bring us a miniature FMI scanner for newborns. The scanner is only one of two in existence, and was recently installed at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital’s Jessop Wing in South Yorkshire, England. The other is stationed at Boston Children’s Hospital but is not in use.
Around the size of a washing machine, the scanner is apart of an initiative to diagnose brain abnormalities and other birth complications in newborns, in particular preemies. The mini scanner will be used for the next two years to determine if devices of this nature are effective despite their size.
Aside from being adorable, the FMI scanner offers other advantages. It can be installed within the neonatal unit, therefore expediting scanning and diagnosing procedures. More so, localizing the device reduces the opportunity for complications that can arise when moving a vulnerable newborn.
So far, 40 babies have been scanned with this cute device. MRIs are seldom performed on extremely premature babies because of the risks posed by maneuvering an unstable newborn. According to professor Paul Griffiths of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, the mini MRI provides more detailed depictions of the brain and anatomy than ultrasounds. Not only is this better for diagnostic purposes, but it also makes explaining complications to parents and guardians much easier.
"From a diagnostic point, the big advantage is that MRI is able to show a wider range of brain abnormalities, in particular those which result from a lack of oxygen or blood supply, Griffths told the BBC.