Literature Spotlight: Ultrafast Doppler for Neonatal Brain Imaging

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In this Literature Spotlight, we explore emerging research in neonatal brain imaging that introduces the use of ultrafast doppler (UfD) and functional ultrasound (fUltrasound) in neonatal brain imaging, with research presented by Dr. Charlie Demené, PhD, and colleagues in their 2019 article, Ultrafast Doppler for neonatal brain imaging. (Access the full article here)

Read on as we explore how this technology could benefit neonates and how soon you can expect this preclinical neuroimaging technique to hit the bedside…



Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) technology has emerged as an exciting new player in neonatal brain imaging over the past decade and is used to map the functional activity and connections in the brain. As fMRI technology continues to be perfected for the neonatal brain, it holds the promise of new discoveries about the development, organization, and integration of deep brain activity in the neonate.   While this technology holds incredible possibilities of unlocking the mysteries of the neonatal brain, it is not without its faults in terms of cost, complexity of technique, and logistics of patient movement to and from the MRI suite. Enter UfDoppler and fUltrasound…


How is ultrafast ultrasound imaging different from conventional ultrasound? 

Remember that traditional cranial ultrasound uses the open fontanels as an “acoustic window” into the brain.  Conductive gel is placed on the skin, and a probe is used to transmit sounds through the conductive gel and into the brain.  High-frequency sounds transmitted into the brain bounce back to the probe and are transformed into an image. This conventional technology uses a focused wave, meaning that the sound waves are transmitted along a set wave pattern creating a sort of layered or fragmented set of data that must be built line by line by the computer.  With ultrafast ultrasound, plane waves are used allowing the echoed sounds to backscatter and be collected all at once allowing far more information to be collected.  



What does this mean for neonatal brain imaging?

This technology could truly revolutionize neonatal brain imaging.  This technique is real time, portable, and much less expensive than fMRI.  Additionally, this technique can be used on awake and freely moving patients, removing the need for neurotoxic sedation. 


When will this technology be ready for the bedside?

According to Dr. Demené, UfD and fUltrasound, should be ready to be introduced in the neonatal intensive care unit setting within the next five years. As this technology has demonstrated benefits and feasibility for human neonates, it may be used in the near future to detect abnormal brain activity associated with perinatal asphyxia such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, seizure propagation, and subtle hemodynamic changes associated with early intraventricular hemorrhage. 


Want to learn more about ultrafast doppler technology? Check out some more preclinical studies and videos demonstrating its use here: http://fultrasound.eu/preclinical-neuroimaging/

We love to hear from you! How would you use fUltrasound technology in your unit?


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