MRI in the neonatal ICU: initial experience using a small-footprint 1.5-T system

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2014 Jan;202(1):W95-W105. doi: 10.2214/AJR.13.10613.


Objective: The objective of our study was to develop a small 1.5-T MRI system for neonatal imaging that can be installed in the neonatal ICU (NICU) and to evaluate its performance in 15 neonates.

Subjects and methods: A 1.5-T MR system designed for orthopedic use was adapted for neonatal imaging. Modifications included raising and leveling the magnet, construction of a patient table, and integration of imaging electronics from a high-performance adult-sized scanner. The system was used to perform MR examinations of the brain, abdomen, and chest in 15 medically stable neonates using standard clinical protocols. The scanning time was limited to 60 minutes. The MR examinations were performed without administering sedation to the patients. ECG, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and temperature were monitored continuously throughout the examination. The images were evaluated by two pediatric radiologists for overall study quality, motion artifact, spatial resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and contrast.

Results: All 15 neonates were successfully imaged without sedation. No adverse MRI-related events were noted. In total, 19 brain and seven abdominal examinations were performed. Six chest and two cardiac examinations were also obtained. Gross (versus physiologic) subject motion proved to be the most influential factor in determining overall study and image quality. High-quality diagnostic images were obtained at each anatomic location.

Conclusion: The customized neonatal MRI system provides state-of-the-art MRI capabilities in the NICU.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male