MRI scans under general anesthesia are now possible for children

The Basics Young patients can now get an MRI under anesthesia, a device that is not widely used.

Elisa slowly falls asleep on the small examination table under inhalation anesthesia. The two-and-a-half-year-old girl is also getting along with her mother and is preparing for her first MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in the Montauban hospital center. A small revolution for the facility, which since last November has been equipped with the necessary equipment to enable this type of examination in pediatrics.

Because for technical reasons it was previously necessary to go to the Toulouse-Purpan University Hospital for an MRI under general anesthesia. “The examination, which can take up to an hour, requires the patient to be completely immobilized,” explains the anesthetist. This is all the more complicated for small children. The slightest movement renders the images unusable. ” Hence the resort to complete sleep.

The radiology technicians take the various recordings. DDM, Hélène Deplanque

However, MRI, which emits electromagnetic waves, requires the use of specific equipment. In other words, metal-free. A system that until then was “reserved” for hospitals in very large cities (Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpellier, etc.).

“A real request”

“Waiting times for this type of examination in Toulouse can be up to a year. There is real demand in the region,” continues the anesthetist. The Montauban Hospital has therefore been working on setting up such a system for almost three years. Staff have been trained in pediatric MRI procedures and the equipment required for anesthesia (ventilator, cardioscope, etc.) has been stripped of its metal parts.

In the small room opposite the examination room, the anesthetists monitor Elisa’s constants from the monitor. The images are sent in real time to the radiologist for interpretation. The different cross-sections of the young patient’s brain thus make it possible to identify anomalies and consequences. The doctor’s conclusions are then sent to Elisha’s pediatrician during the day.

In the next room, the radiologist examines the images in real time and makes their diagnosis. DDM, Hélène Deplanque

Twenty minutes later, the little one finds her mother reassured in the recovery room. The Auscitaine, who was a little concerned about the general anesthesia, is relieved that everything went well and that the examination was able to rule out a brain problem.

Ultimately, the hospital center hopes to use this device, which is not yet widely used in the region, to examine up to two children a week. It can then be developed in claustrophobic patients or those with mental disorders.