The babies in our neonatal unit are very delicate and require special care. Many are extra small in size due to prematurity, while others are sick and frail due to an underlying illness. These babies often receive important medications through intravenous lines and need airway assistance to help them breathe. Most of our neonatal patients have difficulty with body temperature regulation and can become unstable as a result of too much movement.
In the past, most of these neonates were imaged only by x-ray or ultrasound, as these studies can be performed at the bedside of the child rather than requiring he or she to be relocated to a different department. Both x-ray and ultrasound are excellent exams, but they do have some limitations in the evaluation of soft tissues. Sometimes more information is needed to determine how to care for these special babies.
At Cincinnati Children’s, we are extremely lucky to have the first ever MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner built specifically for babies. This scanner is located inside the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at our base hospital. Because it is inside the NICU, your baby does not need to be transported to the radiology department. This allows us to capture high-level imaging, which provides the best detail of the body, without the risk of leaving the NICU department. The nurses and physicians are always nearby for support and minimal movement is used to perform the exam. Through this machine, your baby can have MR imaging of the brain, spine, belly and chest, and we have found that these exams are very important for directing care. As a result, we’ve been able to provide superior imaging for our most vulnerable patients.
Contributed by Dr. Beth Kline-Fath and edited by Tony Dandino.