Premature babies may have just gotten some good news as Sheffield doctors continue to pioneer the usage of an MRI scanner to image their brains.
The whole world has only two such machines and one of them is found at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
The current technology used to scan newborns babies is ultrasound.
But MRI is envisaged to be much better than ultrasound because it clearly shows the brain structures and any abnormalities, as highlighted by Prof Paul Griffiths of the University of Sheffield.
The MRI scanner has so far imaged 40 babies in a machine built by GE Healthcare with funding by the Wellcome Trust.
One such baby is Alice Rose. She was born at 24 weeks with two bleeds in her brain, reports BBC.
Rose’s parents said that they got huge help from the MRI because the image is crispier and meaningful as compared to the ultrasound.
“It’s been a rollercoaster since Alice-Rose was born on 6 November: not everything was fully formed, and she still weighs only 2lb 13oz (1.28kg),” said Rachael.
Only newborn babies can undergo an ultrasound since their skull bones are not yet fused.
For the ultrasound to travel, it penetrates through the soft spots of any two adjacent bones. Some of its advantages include affordability, being cheap as well as convenient. However, there are sections of the brain which one cannot view.
On the other hand, MRI shows all parts of the brain and gives clearer images that are easier to explain.
But not all premature babies are subjected to an MRI because at times the risks involved in handling the infant outweigh the benefits.
As explained by Prof Griffiths, the MRI machines are huge and most times sited at the hospital basements as opposed to maternity units which are higher up. That means it is a complicated journey in getting the baby into and out of the scanner.