University of Leeds | News> Health> Transforming care for babies born with heart disease
Leeds is leading pioneering research into new imaging technologies for babies with congenital heart disease (CHD).
The Baby MRI incubator at Leeds Congenital Heart Unit (LCHU), currently being piloted by researchers from the Medicine School, is the first of its kind in the UK. It is part of a suite of state-of-the-art equipment providing detailed cardiac imaging during MRI scans.
Leading clinicians say the improved data can give worried parents an earlier diagnosis for their sick babies and help predict which patients will need surgery in the future.
??Our current research makes the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit the first in the UK to scan babies with congenital heart disease this way.??
It was funded by Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, with supporting donations from the Morrisons Foundation, Heart Research UK, Ilkley Round Table and other key funders.
The incubator allows physicians to use the latest 4D Flow MRI technology which will not only reduce the uncertainty of diagnosis, but also reduce the risks associated with traditional imaging methods and the analysis time to less than 10 minutes .
Dr Malenka Bissell with the baby pod. Image: Medical illustrations
Dr Malenka Bissell, Senior Lecturer in Pediatric Cardiology at the Faculty of Medicine, said: ‘The research we are currently carrying out makes the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit the first in the UK to scan babies with congenital heart disease in this way.
“In combination with equipment funded by the charity, 4D Flow MRI technology paves the way for improved diagnostic pathways for these patients.
“Uncertainty can be one of the most stressful parts for parents, so now we’re looking at how we can use advanced imaging markers to improve our ability to predict when and if a patient will need surgery. .??
Congenital heart disease is one of the most common types of birth defects, affecting up to eight in 1,000 babies born in the UK, according to the NHS.
The diagnostic challenge
Although survival rates have improved, diagnosing and imaging newborns can be difficult.
Traditionally, computed tomography has often been preferred over MRI, due to its quieter and faster scan times, while MRI has required apneas and sedation of the patient with the associated risk to babies.
The use of CT scans, however, requires a dose of radiation and produces less detailed data than an MRI.
The new incubator will also allow babies to be transported directly from the ward to the MRI department, where scans can be performed without complications or distress.
Sharon Milner, CEO of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said: “I must pay tribute to the many trusts, foundations and other funders who have helped us purchase this vital technology – thank you for supporting Hearts For Life.
“This game-changing research will make a huge difference to babies born with heart disease and their families for years to come in our region.”
It is understood that thousands of babies will benefit from pediatric congenital heart disease research studies incorporating the Baby MRI Incubator over the next several years.
Leeds’ heart surgery success
The MRI Baby Pod research follows a hugely positive December 2020 report from the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (NICOR), showing that children who have heart surgery in Leeds perform better than anywhere else in the world. country.
Over a three-year period, the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit performed heart surgery on 929 children and achieved a survival rate of 99.4%.
Leeds was the only pediatric cardiac surgery unit in the UK to have a survival rate that was in the highest performance category, being much higher than expected for units of this type in England.
The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund has supported LCHU for over 30 years, since its inception in 1988.
Main picture: The baby pod. Credit: Malenka Bissell
For media inquiries, contact Lauren Ballinger, University of Leeds Press Officer via [email protected]