One of the many challenges facing patients referred to the Cincinnati Fetal Center is having to tolerate fetal magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Having to lie still on a narrow table during imaging for any period of time is challenging, and when this is compounded with the physical discomfort of pregnancy, anxiety over the fate of one’s unborn child and what are rather long imaging times (sometimes over an hour) the exam can be unbearable for some.
Here at Cincinnati Children’s we have one of the most robust fetal MRI programs in the country and have been performing fetal MRI over 10 years, now with hundreds of exams performed every year. One may ask with all of the advances in ultra fast fMRI imaging of the fetus, why do these studies take such a long time? Why is it that fMRI’s performed at other institutions or MRIs of other parts of the body do not take as long?
There are a few reasons for this. For one, the fetus is a small moving target and some of the pictures acquired are blurry due to fetal movement, so multiple repeated images are often necessary. Second, attaining the highest image quality possible is of utmost importance to our technologists, radiologists and referring clinicians. Each exam is tailored to the specific problem being evaluated in a particular fetus, with the MRI technologist and radiologist working together to make sure that the imaging will adequately elucidate the question at hand. If we can provide the best imaging possible, we hope to be able to provide the best information possible so that parents to be can make the best decisions for their unborn child. While we know the exam can be challenging given the circumstances, we will do our best to work with you to make the exam as comfortable and successful as possible.
Contributed by Dr. Usha D. Nagaraj and edited by Michelle Gramke, (Adv. Tech-US)