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Rapid Sequence MRI May Hold Advantages for Neonates With Seizures

The imaging modality may reduce patients’ exposure to radiation and sedation.


CHICAGO—Use of rapid sequence MRI in the evaluation of neonates with seizures and no hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is associated with reduced number of CT and MRI scans and similar length of hospital stay and cost, according to a study presented at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Child Neurology Society. “The potential reduction in radiation and sedation exposure associated with CTs and regular MRIs makes rapid sequence MRI an attractive imaging modality in this population,” said Theresa M. Czech, MD, and Andrea C. Pardo, MD, attending physicians at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Dr. Czech is an Instructor in Pediatrics, and Dr. Pardo is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, both at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Neurologists routinely use brain imaging to identify the etiologies of neonatal seizures. Rapid sequence MRI “can reduce the risk of radiation associated with CT or the need for procedural sedation associated with regular MRIs,” said Drs. Czech and Pardo. “Our goal was to determine whether the implementation of a protocol recommending the use of rapid sequence MRI was associated with increased efficiency in the evaluation of neonates with seizures.” Rapid sequence MRI consisted of three plane ultrafast T2 sequences with gradient echo and diffusion weighted sequences.

The researchers compared outcomes before and after the implementation of a protocol recommending the use of rapid sequence MRI. The primary outcome was hospital length of stay. Secondary outcomes included the use of other imaging modalities (ie, head ultrasound, CT, and MRI), cost of imaging, and cost of hospitalization. They excluded neonates with clinical evidence of HIE. Continuous variables were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test, and categorical variables were compared using the chi-squared test.

In all, 95 patients (gestational age, 39 weeks; 63% male) met inclusion criteria—47 in the preintervention group and 48 in the postintervention group. The groups had similar demographics and severity of illness. Implementation of the protocol-guided rapid sequence MRI was associated with decreased use of CT (34% vs 10%) and full MRI (85% vs 62%). Use of head ultrasound (28% vs 12%), length of hospital stay, and costs were not significantly different between groups.

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