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Safety of magnetic resonance imaging in preterm infants


S Lubián-López, Neonatology Department, Puerta del Mar University Hospital, Av. Ana de Viya 21, 11009 Cadiz, Spain. Tel: +34 956002314 | Fax: +34 956004801 | Email:


Aim:  As we progress in our knowledge of preterm brain injury, cohort studies are focusing in neuroimaging preterm infants in the first days of life. Magnetic resonance (MR) is the most powerful neuroimaging modality and valuable in understanding perinatal brain injury. The main purpose of the study is to evaluate the safety of MR imaging in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants at our hospital settings where the scanner is located at some distance from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Subjects and methods:  This is a prospective study of 33 VLBW infants who underwent early MR imaging (MRI), within 10 days after birth and term corrected age MRI. The study period included June to December 2008.

Results:  A total of 46 MRI were performed on 33 preterm infants. The mean total time the infants stayed in the bore of the magnet was 13.04 min. No incidences occurred during transfer or during the scans, and no significant changes were found in heart rate, oxygen saturation and temperature.

Conclusions:  At our hospital settings, the process of transport and MR imaging have been proven to be safe and not to disturb any of the variables measured. MRI should not be restricted to centres with neonatal MR system or MR-compatible incubator, as long as the process is coordinated and supervised by a multidisciplinary team.