Object: Growing concern about potential adverse effects of ionizing radiation exposure during imaging studies is particularly relevant to the pediatric population. To decrease radiation exposure, many institutions use rapid-sequence (or quick-brain) MRI to evaluate cerebral ventricle size. There are obstacles, however, to widespread implementation of this imaging modality. The purpose of this study was to define and quantify these obstacles to positively affect institutional and governmental policy.
Methods: A 9-question survey was emailed to pediatric neurosurgeons who were either members or candidate members of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons at every one of 101 institutions in the US and Canada having such a neurosurgeon on staff. Responses were compiled and descriptive statistics were performed.
Results: Fifty-six institutions completed the survey. Forty-four (79%) of the 56 institutions currently have a rapid-sequence MRI protocol to evaluate ventricle size, while 36 (64%) use it routinely. Of the 44 institutions with a rapid-sequence MRI protocol, 29 (66%) have had a rapid-sequence MRI protocol for less than 5 years while 39 (89%) have had a rapid-sequence MRI protocol for no more than 10 years. Thirty-six (88%) of 41 rapid-sequence MRI users responding to this question obtain a T2-weighted rapid-sequence MRI while 13 (32%) obtain a T1-weighted rapid-sequence MRI. Twenty-eight (64%) of 44 institutions never use sedation while an additional 12 (27%) rarely use sedation to obtain a rapid-sequence MRI (less than 5% of studies). Of the institutions with an established rapid-sequence MRI protocol, obstacles to routine use include lack of emergency access to MRI facilities in 18 (41%), lack of staffing of MRI facilities in 12 (27%), and the inability to reimburse a rapid-sequence MRI protocol in 6 (14%). In the 12 institutions without rapid-sequence MRI, obstacles to implementation include lack of emergency access to MRI facilities in 8 (67%), lack of staffing of MRI facilities in 7 (58%), the inability to reimburse in 3 (25%), and lack of administrative support in 3 (25%). To evaluate pediatric head trauma, 53 (96%) of 55 institutions responding to this question use noncontrast CT, no institution uses rapid-sequence MRI, and only 2 (4%) use standard MRI.
Conclusions: Many North American institutions have a rapid-sequence MRI protocol to evaluate ventricle size, with most developing this technique within the past 5 years. Most institutions never use sedation, and most obtain T2-weighted sequences. The greatest obstacles to the routine use of rapid-sequence MRI in institutions with and in those without a rapid-sequence MRI protocol are the lack of emergency access and staffing of the MRI facility during nights and weekends.
Keywords: TBI = traumatic brain injury; hydrocephalus; radiation; rapid sequence MRI; technique; ventricles.