In the study, MRI was used to image pregnant patients with acute abdominal or pelvic pain. Afterwards, each patient's clinical course was closely followed. According to the authors, the prospective MRI interpretations correlated "extremely well" with clinical and surgical findings, and MRI accurately depicted several disease processes including appendicitis, pancreatitis, uterine fibroids and ulcerative colitis.
Safety is an important consideration in imaging pregnant patients, study authors said. "Instead of ionizing radiation, which is used to produce conventional x-ray images and CT scans, MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses to produce images. Ionizing radiation is a known carcinogen, whereas magnetic fields and radiofrequency pulses are not associated with cancer or fetal malformations," said Katherine R. Birchard, MD, of the University of North Carolina Hospitals and lead author of the study.
According to Dr. Birchard, the initial findings of the study still need to be validated by a larger prospective multiinstitutional study, but the authors remain confident in their initial findings.
Dr. Birchard will present the study on May 3 during the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, FL.