Berlin, Germany- An interdisciplinary team of scientists and leading medics from Berlin's Charité University Hospital has now successfully managed a world's first: they performed the birth of a child in an open high-field MRI scanner from Philips. For the first time, it was possible to obtain unique images showing the inside of the mother's body and showing the movement of the child in the birth canal until the head emerged. The birth proceeded without any complications and mother and child are both doing well.
This operation was the culmination of two years of research and development work by the "open high-field MRI" task force specialising in radiology. "We had to develop a new type of foetal surveillance monitor whose measuring technology is not adversely affected by the extremely strong magnetic field of the MRI scanner," says project manager Felix Güttler in explaining one of the challenges the team faced. The Philips Avalon CTS cordless monitoring system, which was used with the appropriate modifications, provided doctors and midwives with vital information throughout the birth about the child's heart tones and movements, the strength of contractions, as well as the mother's blood pressure.
"The ability to monitor the progress of a birth by magnetic resonance imaging was made possible by the open high-field MRI scanner from Philips," emphasises PD Dr. Ulf Teichgräber, senior physician at the Institute of Radiology at the Charité Hospital. "Unlike other conventional MRI scanners, it does not have a typical tube shape, but rather has an open design in which patients enjoy an unrestricted 360 degree view." This open design also allows good access to the mother and child from all sides throughout the birth – a key criterion for the doctors treating the patient.
Specialists from Philips were also present during this unusual event because the medical imaging of the MRI scanner had to be specially adapted for this unique birth. "This was also a very special moment for Philips Healthcare because it is not every day that we experience such milestones in medical research where there is such a focus on our solutions," says Ivar Nackunstz, Business Development Manager of Philips. "The open high-field MRI task force at the Charité Hospital has developed many technical and clinical solutions for interventions in our panorama and helped to make the outstanding quality of the images produced by magnetic resonance imaging useable for completely new areas of application."
The task of this interdisciplinary group of researchers is now to conduct further investigations to examine the preconceived ideas which have been formed since the 19th century regarding the birth process and movements of the unborn child in the mother's pelvis. One of the aims of the scientists is to gain a better understanding in future of why in 15 percent of all births there is a stalled labour which makes it necessary to deliver the baby by Caesarean section.