A new MRI system providing high-quality scans and specifically designed for safe imaging of newborns in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) arrived in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The unit will expand neurocritical care at BWH and is the first FDA-approved, NICU-dedicated MRI system in the U.S.
“The installation of the state-of-the-art, neonatal MRI system will greatly enhance the research capabilities of BWH and elevate and expand neurocritical care for our littlest patients,” said Terrie Inder, chair of the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine. “Locating this technology within the NICU will reduce time and patient risk associated with transporting newborns to a traditional MRI and allow MRI access from the first hours of life through the challenging, sometimes life threatening, time within the NICU.”
Babies undergoing scans will be in a temperature-controlled self-contained incubator bed which minimizes the child’s movement while allowing for better control of the baby’s environment and continuous monitoring of its vital signs. Information gained from the MRI can inform the care team and the family as to whether brain injury has occurred, and in the future, guide which treatments may assist in preventing disability.
“This new MRI system, designed with a single use – scanning of the newborn – will enhance the care we provide for our NICU patients and provide an empowering technology that will complement existing MRI scanners and improve efficiency by offering imaging to our tiniest patients within the controlled confines of the NICU,” said Srinivasan Mukundan, Jr., PhD, MD, medical director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging at BWH.
The neonatal MRI system is quieter than traditional whole-body scanners and uses lower power consumption. The self-shielded, permanently magnetic system has been specifically designed for the NICU, an area that would be typically size- and risk-prohibitive for an MRI.
Initially, the neonatal MRI system, the EMBRACE ™, manufactured by Aspect Imaging, will be used exclusively for applied medical research. Upon its arrival, it was hoisted via crane from Francis Street through a roof hatch into the NICU and moved into the room designed to house the new MRI.