New flexible MRI coils for babies (Courtesy of Nature)
MRI machines can take a long time to produce the images needed—sometimes more than an hour. This can be challenging, especially for pediatric patients. To help babies stay perfectly still in the machine, doctors often use anesthesia, which represents an added risk for already fragile patients.
To solve this problem, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed new flexible MRI coils. Their study was published earlier this year in the journal Nature. These coils can be screen-printed (the same process used for printing designs on T-shirts) to fit patients of various sizes or custom-made if needed. These coils are flexible and can be bent and easily wrapped around an infant. They are designed to fit the MRI machines that most hospitals have. The researchers also developed a prototype of a blanket with the coils that can be wrapped around a baby.