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Neonatal MRI Technology Could Save Lives

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Ultrasound imaging is the common technology in most hospitals for checking newborn babies for a variety of diseases and other medical challenges.

But what if we could improve this imaging? What if we could uncover many more complications shortly after birth? Better diagnostic technology can lead to early intervention and prevention to improve the lives of so many newborns and their families

New Technology

A recent BBC article discusses a new MRI machine for the neonatal intensive care unit of a Sheffield hospital. There is only one other machine of this kind in the world, located in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Benefits of Neonatal MRI

Although there are only two of these in the world, the benefits are extraordinary. There are certain visual gaps in the images created by ultrasound technology, making it impossible to see everything needed to make a thorough and accurate medical assessment.

The MRI technology eliminates this issue and gives medical professionals much more thorough and accurate information. The BBC article quotes Prof. Griffith of the University of Sheffield as saying "MRI is able to show a wider range of brain abnormalities, in particular those which result from a lack of oxygen or blood supply."

Challenges With MRI Technology

Regular MRI machines are large and expensive. Because of this, most hospitals have only one and they are usually far from the neonatal intensive care units.

The new units solve the problem of size. According to the BBC article, they are only about the size of a common washing machine, so they could easily fit in many units.

The other major problem remaining is the cost. Like all medical equipment, these MRI machines are expensive. Further, there is still some research and development that needs to be done and the smaller MRI machines are not yet commercially available.

The hope, of course, is that a competent manufacturing group makes these units available as soon as possible and hospitals begin using this technology right away. The greater diagnostic information provided by these units can improve and even save lives.

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