A new, detailed scan of a baby’s heartbeat within the womb has recently been shared by researchers. The team from the King’s College London, captured the unprecedented images via MRI scans. It is hoped the new screening will help to improve the level of care provided to babies who suffer from congenital heart disease.
Understanding the technology
The technology behind the detailed images works using an MRI machine. It produces several 2D pictures of baby’s heart, taken from numerous angles. These images are then pieced together by sophisticated software.
The software adjusts the images according to the beating of baby’s heart, building up an extraordinary 3D image. This provides a clear view of any abnormalities.
Study proves successful for 11-month old Violet-Vienna
The study into the new baby scan technology has already proved invaluable for babies like now 11-month old Violet-Vienna.
During a routine 20-week ultrasound scan, Violet’s mother, Kirbi-Lea Pettitt, discovered her baby had abnormalities. After taking part in the study to test the new equipment, it was discovered her baby’s main artery from the heart was narrowed. This would have blocked the blood vessel not long after birth. There were also two holes within the heart detected.
However, detecting the issues meant that doctors were able to save baby Violet-Vienna’s life after she was born. Violet was immediately taken away after the birth and placed onto medication to keep the blood vessel open. Then, heart surgery was carried out a week later, and today the 11-month old is thriving.
Without the detailed images produced by the new software and MRI scan, baby Violet-Vienna may not have survived.
The potential benefits it could provide
The initial study carried out shows just how crucial this new baby scan technology could be for baby’s suffering with congenital heart problems. It is thought up to eight babies in 1,000 are born with congenital heart issues in the UK.
After consultant paediatric cardiologist, Professor Reza Razavi, almost lost his child when she was born with a congenital heart problem, he wanted to improve the diagnosis of the condition. It was a powerful motivator, which ultimately led to the development of the new baby scan technology.
Now, it is hoped the technology will be implemented as a routine diagnostic tool for those at high risk of the condition. The 3D images produced are remarkable, and as the studies have already shown, they are successful at pinpointing heart defects in stunning detail. This could lead to much more effective treatment being provided once baby is born. If a treatment plan is already in place, it reduces the risks and increases the chances of survival.
The technology will be easy to adopt into practices which already have MRI screening equipment. The only additional equipment required would be a computer and graphics card.
Overall, this new technology could prove a game changer in the industry. An alternative option could be to use four different ultrasound probes simultaneously, rather than just one, in order to get a clearer picture.