New MRI technique eyes lung disease in infants

August 1, 2006

Diffusion hyperpolarized helium-3 MRI could provide a noninvasive means to diagnose and manage children with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, according to researchers in Philadelphia and Virginia.

Diffusion hyperpolarized helium-3 MRI could provide a noninvasive means to diagnose and manage children with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, according to researchers in Philadelphia and Virginia.

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) affects preterm infants whose lungs start performing the vital gas exchange before their alveoli are fully developed, resulting in inflammation, injury, and deficient lung development. Physicians currently lack the data and means to properly diagnose the condition or assess treatment response.

A multicenter group led by Dr. Jaime F. Mata, a lecturer in radiology at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, enrolled 32 healthy subjects with a history of full-term birth and 13 with a history of preterm birth complicated by subsequent BPD. All subjects underwent diffusion MRI at 1.5T during a breath-hold following inhalation of hyperpolarized He-3 gas and spirometry. The investigators performed apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) mapping for lung volume quantitation.

They found children with a history of preterm birth and BPD had elevated ADC values and the same or slightly lower lung volumes compared with age-matched healthy control subjects. Study findings, which were presented at the 2006 ISMRM meeting, confirmed histological data showing that children with BPD have larger but fewer alveoli.