CU researchers: Fast MRIs offer alternative to CT scans for pediatric head injuries

September 18, 2019

AURORA, Colo. (Sept. 18, 2019) - Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine have released a study that shows that a new imaging method "fast MRI" is effective in identifying traumatic brain injuries in children, and can avoid exposure to ionizing radiation and anesthesia.

The results of the study, which are published in the journal Pediatrics, establish a new, low-risk way to test for brain injuries. The study was designed to determine the feasibility and accuracy of "fast MRI," or magnetic resonance imaging, when compared to computed tomography (CT) scanning.

"We found that fast MRI is a reasonable alternative to CT," said Daniel Lindberg, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine at the CU School of Medicine and lead author of the article. "Nearly all - 99 percent - of fast MRIs were completed successfully, with accuracy that was similar to CT, while avoiding the harms of radiation exposure."

Each year as many as 1.6 million children visit U.S. emergency departments with a concern for traumatic brain injury. As many as 70 percent undergo CT scanning, which exposes the children to ionizing radiation and increased risk of cancer.

Conventional MRI can identify injuries without radiation exposure, but requires the child to remain motionless for several minutes. Conventional MRI requires anesthesia, which is not practical in many injured children and may expose them to mild cognitive injury. Fast MRI avoids the need for sedation by using faster, and more motion-tolerant imaging techniques.

Between June 2015 and June 2018, the CU researchers recruited participants to their study. Children less than six years old who had already undergone CT scans during their emergency care were eligible to participate and those enrolled received fast MRI as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours of the CT scan.

Of the 225 children enrolled, fast MRI was completed in 223. The median imaging time in fast MRI was 6 minutes, 5 seconds. Fast MRI results matched those of CT in greater than 90 percent of cases. CT showed better accuracy for identifying fractures or breaks to the skull, while fast MRI did a better job of imaging the brain and the space between the brain and skull.

One limitation of the study is that it may not apply to other settings without access to cutting-edge MRI scanners or experienced pediatric radiologists. "We were fortunate to be using newer scanning equipment and highly experienced technicians and pediatric radiologists," Lindberg said. "While we believe our findings reveal a feasible alternative to CTs in pediatric specialty centers, further study is necessary to test the results in other settings."
In addition to Lindberg, nine other CU School of Medicine faculty members are co-authors of the study: Nicholas V. Stence, MD, Joseph A. Grubenhoff, MD, MSCS, Terri Lewis, PhD, David M. Mirsky, MD, Angie L. Miller, MD, Brent R. O'Neill, MD, Kathleen Grice, Peter Mourani, MD, and Desmond K. Runyan, MD, DrPH.

About the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, Children's Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System. The school is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system.

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to