Silent MRI can make brain scans easier for children, clinicians

Pediatric patients are especially difficult to image, but utilizing silent MRI can help.

Compared to traditional MRI, a silent imaging technique reduces noise and improves the overall success rate of imaging children 3-36 months old, according to an Oct. 17 study published in Academic Radiology. Xi Zhu from Yangzhou University’s Department of Radiology and team say their research, along with prior studies, prove silent MRI’s superiority.

“Taken together, the present study and previous ones suggest that silent MRI is more suitable for children's brain scans than conventional MRI,” the researchers wrote.

Newborns must be sedated to undergo brain MRI. However, many studies have shown that these young patients are often woken up by the loud noises from the modality, and in such cases,  clinicians must sedate them a second time, adding to the stress of the patient and family, along with the clinician.

Silent MRI utilizes three “major” hardware breakthroughs to reduce noise problems and improve spatial accuracy. It’s been effective in abdominal, vascular and bone imaging and has been increasingly utilized in clinical practice.

For their study, Zhu et al. retrospectively analyzed the imaging success rate of children (3-36 months) who underwent silent or conventional brain MRI from January 2015 to February 2018.

Overall, silent MRI scans were more useful for diagnosis and offered improved success rates compared to traditional MRI. And the silent variety reduced acoustic noise to nearly the level of background noise, the team wrote.

Additionally, the authors reported a drop in secondary sedations, total length of exam times, work efficiency improvements and reduced psychological pressure on both technicians and parents. They did find a decrease in signal-to-noise ratio, but improvement in contrast-to-noise ratio.

Despite some limitations, including the study’s retrospective nature, the researchers suggest silent MRI can improve pediatric brain imaging.

“We believe that silent MRI of the child's brain can effectively reduce motion artifacts and achieve high contrast between tissue and lesions under the premise of ensuring that the image quality is not very different, which is more advantageous in child head MRI,” the team concluded.