OBJECTIVES: The goals were to develop safe 4.7-T MRI examination protocols for newborn infants and to explore the advantages of this field strength in neonatal encephalopathy.
METHODS: Nine ventilated newborn infants with moderate or severe encephalopathy were studied at 4.7 T, with ethical approval and informed parental consent. The custom-made, 4.7-T-compatible, neonatal patient management system included acoustic noise protection and physiologic monitoring. An adult head coil was used. Acquisition parameters for T2-weighted fast spin echo MRI and a variety of T1-weighted methods were adapted for MRI of neonatal brain at 4.7 T. The pulse sequences used had a radiofrequency specific absorption rate of <2 W/kg.
RESULTS: Physiologic measures were normal throughout each scan. T2-weighted fast spin echo imaging provided better anatomic resolution and gray/white matter contrast than typically obtained at 1.5 T; T1-weighted images were less impressive.
CONCLUSIONS: With appropriate safety precautions, MRI of newborn infants undergoing intensive care is as feasible at 4.7 T as it is at 1.5 T; our initial studies produced T2-weighted fast spin echo images with more detail than commonly obtained at 1.5 T. Although T1-weighted images were not adequately informative, additional pulse sequence optimization may be advantageous. A smaller neonatal head coil should also permit greater flexibility in acquisition parameters and even more anatomic resolution and tissue contrast. In neonatal encephalopathy, interpretation of the T2-weighted pathologic detail in combination with comprehensive neurodevelopmental follow-up should improve prognostic accuracy and enable more patient-specific therapeutic interventions. In addition, more precise relationships between structural changes and functional impairment may be defined.
- Brain Diseases/diagnosis
- Infant, Newborn
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
- Severity of Illness Index