Increasing use of MRI in pediatrics – benefits of short examination times

There is an increasing interest in the use of MRI in pediatrics, and both clinics the MRI industry are looking for ways to make the exam better adapted to the specific needs of young patients.

An MRI exam, in comparison to for example a CT, does not expose the patient to radiation. As exposure to radiation is a particular concern when examining children, the use of MRI is increasing for pediatric examinations, an article in AuntMinne1 reports.

A disadvantage with MRI exams today however is that general anesthesia is sometimes needed when examining young patients as the exam takes longer and the patient has to lie still in order to get good images. Apart from medical risks, the use of general anesthesia in pediatric MRI increases the mean visit time by one hour and 46 minutes and thus increases the cost of the exam substantially. At Johns Hopkins, they performed a study where they were able to reduce the use of general anesthesia from 45 percent to 35 percent among children 5 to 10 years of age and from 23 to 19 percent in children in general when all children had to go through a mandatory child life consultation before the exam, AuntMinne reports.  

Another way to decrease the need for general anesthesia is to shorten the examination time. Dr. Thierry Huisman, Johns Hopkins’ medical director of pediatric neurology says to AuntMinne that he thinks that “…eventually many studies that are done on CT can be replaced by ultrafast MRI and child life [consultation].”

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) is currently using SyMRI® from SyntheticMR to study and clinically validate the use of synthetic MRI in children2. CCHMC wants to evaluate the opportunity to improve the efficiency of pediatric MRI by being able to shorten the examination time with SyMRI.

“The ability to create multiple diagnostic sequences from a single acquisition may allow for substantial time savings and increased throughput. We have been very impressed with the versatility and image quality thus far, based upon our initial review, and have therefore begun a more formalized image quality review study. All in all, we see a great potential for its use in clinical practice,” says  Blaise V. Jones, M.D. , Chief of Neuroradiology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Another potential benefit of SyMRI IMAGE for pediatric imaging is that the contrast can be adjusted after the exam, helping to find the optimal settings for the developing brain. Because of the way the human brain develops, it can sometimes be difficult to find the optimal scanner settings when examining children. If the correct settings are not used from the start, the examination may have to be repeated, creating additional burden for the patient and increased costs for the healthcare providers. With SyMRI IMAGE, the contrast can be adjusted after the image has been acquired allowing clinicians to optimize image quality, thus reducing the need to recall the patient.

Many MRI vendors are also focusing on providing imaging technology that better suits the needs of young patients, providing increased safety, high quality exams and a better experience for the patient. A recent example is Toshiba’s initiative3 to “put pediatric patients first by offering 360 degrees of patient safety.” 

Read more here:

1. “Mandatory child life counseling calms kids before MRI scans” (AuntMinnie 2015-05-07)

2. “Clinical validation of SyMRI in children at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital” (SyntheticMR  2015-01-08)

3. “Toshiba Puts Pediatric Patients First by Offering 360 Degrees of Patient Safety.” (Toshiba 2015-04-28)

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