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Health Spotlight: Mobile MRI enhances pediatric care

Health Spotlight: portable MRI for children

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Whether it’s the brain, spine, joints, tissues, or organs, 10 million people will get an MRI every year.

It’s a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a powerful magnet, radio frequencies, and a computer to make detailed inner-body images for doctors.

But for children, getting an MRI can be scary, until now.

Alexandra Beier, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, says many of the hospital’s patients are either “really small or really sick,” meaning moving them into a room with an MRI machine 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,” Beier said.

The standard MRI looks like a tunnel – it’s big, immobile, and often causes anxiety and discomfort for kids. But now there’s a new smaller, portable option. The new MRI machine has enabled doctors to perform diagnostic tests at the patient’s bedside, lowering the risk of injury from transportation.

The magnet in the mobile unit is less powerful. Beier describes it as “strong as a refrigerator magnet.” Additionally, the time an MRI takes is cut 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,” Beier said.

Doctors believe that the portable MRI will go beyond pediatrics, with the aim to enhance access to diagnostic imaging for patients of all ages.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.