Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

Pioneering research transforms imaging for infants with congenital heart disease

The Leeds Children’s Hospital’s Congenital Heart Unit is the first in the UK to undertake pioneering research addressing challenges in the diagnosis and monitoring of infants with congenital heart disease. The project aims to establish a new approach to imaging these patients by using 4D Flow magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) prototype software from Siemens Healthineers, reducing scan time to under 10 minutes while infants sleep in an MRI-safe incubator.

Congenital heart disease is one of the most common types of birth defect and while survival rates have improved, diagnosis and imaging of newborn infants can be challenging. The University of Leeds project uses 4D Flow and cardiac MRI to establish an approach that could provide greater data at a high speed and transform the way imaging is performed on infants.

Acquiring a full set of MRI images, which provide both anatomical and functional information, can take up to an hour, however, with the application of the 4D Flow technology the project aims to achieve this in under 10 minutes. 4D Flow provides a comprehensive, non-invasive assessment of the heart in a single imaging session, allowing paediatric cardiologists greater insight with potential to predict which patients may need surgery in the future.

The Leeds Congenital Heart Unit is equipped with innovations designed to optimise scanning infants, thanks to donations from Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and other generous funders. The new equipment includes an MRI-safe closed incubator, which reduces the noise the infant is exposed to and allows scans to take place as the baby sleeps in a safe and comfortable environment.

“The research we are currently undertaking makes the University of Leeds the first in the UK to scan babies with congenital heart disease this way,” says Dr Malenka Bissell, Clinical Lecturer of Paediatric Cardiology at the University of Leeds and Consultant at Leeds Children’s Hospital. “In combination with the equipment funded by the charity, 4D Flow MRI technology is paving the way to improve diagnostic pathways for these patients.”

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Dr Malenka Bissell alongside the Magnetom Prisma from Siemens Healthineers and the MRI-safe closed incubator.

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