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Fetal MRI

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust offers a fetal and placental Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) service.

MRI of the unborn baby is usually requested when the ultrasound scan of your baby has detected a problem or there is a family history of previous problems. MRI is used to get additional images that compliment the ultrasound scan images and are used to help work out what the problem is, what the doctors can do and what is the likely outcome for your baby.

Additional information and support group information is available at: https://www.fetalmri.co.uk/

Your appointment – what to expect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An MRI scanner is a large scanner shaped like a polo mint with a long tunnel in the middle. Because we are looking at the placenta or the baby you will enter the tunnel feet first and your head will never be in the middle of the tunnel.

  • You can lie in a comfortable position either on your back or your side.
  • It takes about 20 mins.
  • You can have someone in the scan room with you if you wish.
  • You will be invited to look at your images and given the results after your scan if that is what you would like.
  • You don’t need a full bladder.

This link will take you to a video of someone undergoing an MRI scan so you can see what happens….

Video link

Further information about MRI scans can be found in this leaflet: 

Click here for the leaflet

FAQ
Why is a Fetal MRI necessary?

MRI of the unborn baby is usually requested when the ultrasound scan of your baby has detected a problem or there is a family history of previous problems. MRI is used to get additional images that compliment the ultrasound scan images and are used to help work out what the problem is, what the doctors can do and what is the likely outcome for your baby.

How long will it take to get an appointment?

If you have been referred by your doctor, fetal medicine specialist or obstetrician, you will get an appointment, often by phone, within a few days of referral.

Can I request a fetal MRI independently?

If you wish to have an MRI of your baby please speak to your doctor and ask them to refer you as this will ensure it is appropriate for you to have the MRI scan.

How much does a fetal MRI cost?

All fetal MRIs performed in Sheffield are provided on the NHS and you should be referred by your Obstetrician or GP.

Where does the procedure take place?

Fetal MRI is only performed in specialist centres so you may need to travel to a centre away from your home town. Sheffield is a specialist centre. It is performed in the MRI unit which is located in the Radiology (X Ray) department.

You should be given details on how to find the correct place when you receive your appointment.

When does the procedure take place?

You will be given an appointment with a time and date to attend. At the department you will be greeted at the reception desk and checked in. Often this is done electronically so the staff will know you are there and you will be directed to the best waiting area.

What should I wear?

It makes it easier and quicker for everyone if you can wear clothing without metal parts e.g. sports bra without underwires and metal fastens, maternity clothes are usually fasten free, loose clothing will also help. This means you will be able to wear your own clothes for the scan and not need to change into a hospital gown.

Please remove all hair clips, you can leave head scarves on. Ideally leave your jewellery at home. You will need to fill in a safety questionnaire.

Can I bring someone with me?

Our centre at Sheffield allows you to have someone in the scan room with you as long as they fill in a safety questionnaire and remove all metal items (they can have metal zips etc. attached to their clothing as they are not having the scan) and empty their pockets (lockers are provided).

Is it safe?

There are no known risks to the mother or the fetus. Studies have followed up patients for several years and not shown any adverse effects.

The scanner is very noisy, and you will be given ear protection. The baby will move as the noise starts but they do settle down. The baby is surrounded by fluid which reduces the level of noise the baby hears. We have checked the hearing of over 100 babies who had had a fetal MRI before birth and have not found any problems.

You may feel warm in the scanner, but the baby is protected by the fluid. We will keep the scan time as short as possible but still get the information we need for your and your baby’s care.

The staff

You will meet a radiographic aid who will prepare you for the scan and then a radiographer who will explain the scan to you and answer any questions you might have about the procedure.

You may or may not meet the radiologist – who interprets the scan and provides the report for your doctors, before and or after the scan.

Limitations of fetal MRI

As with every investigation they are never perfect.

Fetal MRI only tells us about the structure of the baby’s body. It cannot tell us if it works.

Fetal MRI is only effective for some body areas, but not for others.

Parts of the body where fetal MRI is able to see the structure in detail include the brain, the nervous tissue of the spine, the lungs, the kidneys, the liver and bladder. It is not very good for looking at the bowel, bones or the heart.

It is also not as effective if looking at the arms, legs, hands and feet. Ultrasound is much better for these.





 


 

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