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Newborns at Addenbrooke’s receive safer MRI scans thanks to generous donors

Generous funding has enabled the hospital to buy a £316,000 special MRI incubator allowing premature babies and babies at high-risk of brain injury to be scanned sooner.

The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust and a generous legacy to Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) from Ann Mynott have enabled the hospital to buy a £316,000 special MRI incubator allowing premature babies and babies at high-risk of brain injury to be scanned sooner.

Brain injury affects preterm and full-term babies with some going on to develop life-long neurological disabilities such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy. At present, babies born prematurely cannot be scanned in a standard MRI scanner, which has an effect on the decisions made surrounding their care. An early MRI could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment, and better long-term outcomes for babies affected by brain injury.

Previously, full-term babies were transported in their incubator to the MRI scanner in the Rosie Hospital and then transferred onto the MRI trolley before moving into the MRI scanner. This is challenging and time-consuming, particularly for critically ill infants. Although every effort is made to enable the baby to sleep through the scan (and hence keep still), the handling would often wake them up and result in poor quality images.

With the new MRI incubator the baby can be settled on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and then put straight into the MRI scanner without any further transfer or handling.

Not only does it make it far safer and quicker to scan the baby, the MRI incubator allows a wider range of babies to be scanned, better quality images and a reduced risk of hypothermia; delivering an all-round safer and less disruptive experience for vulnerable babies.

Professor Topun Austin, Consultant Neonatologist at Addenbrooke’s said: “The MRI incubator generously funded by the Jules Thorn Charitable Trust and ACT is only one of four such pieces of equipment in use in the UK. Transferring a newborn from the neonatal intensive care unit for an MRI scan is a challenging procedure. The incubator allows babies to be stabilised in the NICU prior to moving to the scanner, allowing both very pre-term and critically ill babies to be scanned safely. This enables us to diagnose babies at risk of brain injury at an earlier stage and monitor their response to neuroprotective treatments. The purchase of this incubator means that we are able to provide the best care to the smallest and sickest babies. It also opens up a new avenue of research possibilities with the ability to scan these babies.”

The Sir Jules Thorn Trust previously provided two dedicated neurocritical care cots and specialist brain scanning and monitoring equipment for the Rosie Maternity Hospital in 2014.

David Richings, Director of the Sir Jules Thorn Trust, said: “The Trust is delighted again to have been able to support the enormously important work of the Rosie Hospital in providing exceptional treatment for babies who are in need of special care.” Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust is raising funds to ensure that every child experiences the best possible outcome at Addenbrooke’s.