Feasibility of and experience using a portable MRI scanner in the neonatal intensive care unit

Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2023 Jan;108(1):45-50. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2022-324200. Epub 2022 Jul 4.


Objective: A portable, low-field MRI system is now Food and Drug Administration cleared and has been shown to be safe and useful in adult intensive care unit settings. No neonatal studies have been performed. The objective is to assess our preliminary experience and assess feasibility of using the portable MRI system at the bedside in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at a quaternary children's hospital.

Study design: This was a single-site prospective cohort study in neonates ≥2 kg conducted between October and December 2020. All parents provided informed consent. Neonates underwent portable MRI examination in the NICU with support equipment powered on and attached to the neonate during the examination. A paediatric radiologist interpreted each portable MRI examination. The study outcome variable was percentage of portable MRI examinations completed without artefacts that would hinder diagnosis. Findings were compared between portable MRI examinations and standard of care examinations.

Results: Eighteen portable, low-field MRI examinations were performed on 14 neonates with an average age of 29.7 days (range 1-122 days). 94% (17 of 18) of portable MRI examinations were acquired without significant artefact. Significant intracranial pathology was visible on portable MRI, but subtle abnormalities were missed. The examination reads were concordant in 59% (10 of 17) of cases and significant pathology was missed in 12% (2 of 17) of cases.

Conclusion: This single-centre series demonstrated portable MRI examinations can be performed safely with standard patient support equipment present in the NICU. These findings demonstrate that portable MRI could be used in the future to guide care in the NICU setting.

Trial registration number: NCT04629469.

Keywords: Magnetic Resonance Imaging; intensive care units, neonatal; neurology; paediatrics.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Prospective Studies

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04629469