YOUR HEALTH: On the move: Portable MRI for children

For children, getting an MRI can be downright terrifying, until now.
Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 8:22 AM CDT
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Whether it’s the brain, spine, joints, tissues, or organs, 10 million people will get an MRI or magnetic resonance imaging. It’s a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a powerful magnet, radio frequencies, and a computer to produce images for doctors to get a detailed look at what’s happening inside the body. But for children, getting an MRI can be downright terrifying, until now.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the patients that we take care of are either really small or they’re really sick,” explained Dr. Alexandra Beier, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Beier says these children are so sick that moving them to a room with an MRI can be risky.

“There’s a lot of patients, especially the cardiac patients, where they cannot physically be moved, and even our severe traumatic brain injury patients where you know every time you move them, you’re risking increased pressure to their brain,” said Dr. Beier.

The standard MRI looks like a tunnel – it’s big, immobile, and often causes anxiety and discomfort for kids. But there’s a new smaller, portable MRI machine.

“This was one of the first scans we used the hyper fine swoop MRI for. And it was very nice because the patient was very small and we did not want to transport him because he was having seizures and there was a lot of risk with transporting him. So, we’re able to do it right at the bedside,” said Dr. Beier.

The magnet in the mobile unit is less powerful.

“It’s basically as strong as a refrigerator magnet,” said Dr. Beier.

The time it takes is cut down from an hour to 35 minutes.

“It would never replace a full MRI, it would just add to the ability to do the information at the bedside,” added Dr. Beier.

Doctors believe that the portable MRI will have far-reaching implications beyond pediatrics. The aim is to enhance access to diagnostic imaging for patients of all ages.

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