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UK’s first ‘miniature’ MRI installed in Sheffield hospital


24 January 2017

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A maternity hospital in Sheffield has installed a ‘miniature’ MRI scanner for newborn babies, becoming one of the first in the world to do so.

The scanner, set up in The Jessop Wing Maternity Hospital, is a prototype that forms part of a two-year research project into the feasibility and benefits of scanning babies in the neonatal unit.

A maternity hospital in Sheffield has installed a ‘miniature’ MRI scanner for newborn babies, becoming one of the first in the world to do so.

The scanner, set up in The Jessop Wing Maternity Hospital, is a prototype that forms part of a two-year research project into the feasibility and benefits of scanning babies in the neonatal unit.

Considerably smaller than a standard MRI machine, the scanner can be fit into a neonatal unit, enabling babies to be scanned in the unit rather than being transferred to the main radiology department or Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Scans therefore can be performed more quickly, while lowering the risks associated with moving and handling vulnerable newborn babies.

An MRI will also provide more detailed clinical information than a bedside ultrasound scan.

Paul Griffiths, Professor of Radiology at the University of Sheffield and Honorary Consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Martyn Paley, Professor of MR Physics at the University of Sheffield, have been working on the concept and design of the scanner for 12 years.

Professor Griffiths said: “The idea is to learn how to use this new scanner to take high-quality images of babies’ brains. So far the quality of the images has got better as we have gone along.

“Babies, particularly with brain problems, are unstable – they can stop breathing or their blood pressure can change in an unpredictable way. 

“If that happens it is useful to have neo-natal staff who are used to that situation in such close proximity, which will improve safety.”

The other MRI machine for newborns is located in America.

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