New flexible pediatric MRI coil preferred by patients, clinicians

A screen-printed 12-channel pediatric MRI coil produced images with comparable quality and similar signal-to-noise ratio as those produced by a traditional 32-channel coil. Pediatric patients and their providers preferred the screen-printed coil for its flexibility and comfort, according to a Feb. 26 study in Radiology.

“Pediatric MRI is often performed with heavy, large, and relatively inflexible coil arrays designed and built for adult MRI,” wrote Simone Angela Winkler, PhD, of Stanford University’s department of radiology, and colleagues. “For awake children, these arrays can be intimidating and uncomfortable, thereby restricting the child’s breathing. For pediatric caregivers, the coils complicate the placement of medical support equipment, such as mechanical ventilation tubes, pulse oximeters…”

The pediatric device was screen-printed onto polyether ether ketone substrates, which eliminated the need for traditional bulky and heavy coil housing. The screen-printed coil was used on 20 patients aged from 2 days to 12 years, and a pediatric phantom between September and November 2017. 

Overall, compared to the commercial coil, the new device produced a high diagnostic image and a slightly worse signal-to-noise ratio. However, when caregivers were asked to rate which coil they preferred (1, preferred commercial coil; 5, preferred printed coil), most chose the pediatric printed coil (mean score of 4.1). A survey of patients and providers also achieved a mean score of 4.1, indicating an overall preference for the printed coil.

“Overall, the new technology was very well received. The open-ended feedback focused on the lightweight, soft, and flexible aspects of the coil, as well as the minimization of respiratory compromise form pressure on the chest,” the authors wrote. “Clinical caregivers also noted that children, their parents, or both commented on the increased comfort of the lighter weight coil. Technologists specified the ease of positioning.”

Winkler and colleagues noted they did not examine the same patients with both the screen-printed and conventional coil, but used phantom studies for these comparisons, which may have limited their results.

“The practical advantages of a flexible screen-printed MRI receiver coil cannot be overestimated,” wrote Hildo J. Lamb, MD, PhD, of Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, in a related editorial. "The work by Winkler et al. is an important stimulus for others to develop dedicated coil technology for other applications.”

One author of the Feb. 26 Radiology study disclosed they are employed by GE Healthcare, which provided some funding for the research. Six other authors acknowledged their affiliation with InkSpace Imaging. Those authors with no connection to either company had control over the inclusion of data or information that might have been considered a conflict of interest for the authors mentioned. Hildo J. Lamb did not cite any conflicts of interest.