Background: Very low birth weight (VLBW) infants (weight <1500 g) are increasingly cared for without prolonged periods of positive pressure ventilation (PPV).
Aims: To develop a system for 3.0 T magnetic resonance (MR) image acquisition from VLBW infants who are not receiving PPV, and to test the clinical stability of a consecutive cohort of such infants.
Design: Seventy VLBW infants whose median weight at image acquisition was 940 g (590-1490) underwent brain MR imaging with the developed care system as participants in research. Twenty infants (29%) received nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP), 28 (40%) received supplemental oxygen by nasal cannulae, and 22 (31%) breathed spontaneously in air during the MR examination.
Results: There were no significant adverse events. Seventy-six percent had none or transient self-correcting oxygen desaturations. Desaturations that required interruption of the scan for assessment were less common among infants receiving nCPAP (2/20) or breathing spontaneously in air (2/22), compared with those receiving nasal cannulae oxygen (13/28), p=0.003. Sixty-four (91%) infants had an axillary temperature > or =36 degrees C at completion of the scan (lowest 35.7 degrees C), There was no relationship between weight (p=0.167) or use of nCPAP (p=0.453) and axillary temperature <36 degrees C. No infant became hyperthermic.
Conclusion: VLBW infants who do not require ventilation by endotracheal tube can be imaged successfully and safely at 3.0 T, including those receiving nCPAP from a customised system.