Touching Lives - March 2010
New scans offer 3D views of unborn baby’s brain
Using Action Medical Research funding to develop these more detailed images, Professor Mary Rutherford and her team in collaboration with Professor Jo Hajnal at Hammersmith Hospital, London, aim to help doctors better diagnose brain disorders so they can decide earlier on the best treatment for mother and child.
Magnet resonance imaging (MRI) scans can reveal whether babies have abnormal brain development or signs of acquired brain injury that are likely to cause problems as they grow and develop. But because MRI scans take pictures in slices and need the object being scanned to remain completely still in order to get a clear image, a wriggling fetus causes obvious problems. Interpreting these scans, therefore, is extremely timeconsuming and complicated, and there is a lack of trained experts, meaning full information on brain damage cannot be routinely obtained. Professor Rutherford and her team have developed ways caused by a moving fetus by taking multiple scans of the New scans offer 3D views of unborn baby’s brain baby’s brain and slotting them together to make a clear and detailed image that can be seen in 3D. These resulting pictures may help doctors spot even very subtle changes in the developing brain and give them more information on how to proceed with treatment.
Professor Rutherford said: “This information will help obstetricians decide if a baby is likely to have severe problems with development or whether to deliver a baby sooner as brain growth may be better outside the womb.”