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Suspected Child Abuse may be Detected by Whole-Body MRI

by Kathy Jones on August 22, 2010 at 12:11 PM
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 Suspected Child Abuse may be Detected by Whole-Body MRI

A study in the September issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology says that whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is highly accurate at detecting soft-tissue abnormalities, may serve a role in detecting suspected child abuse in infants.

Whole-body MRI does not use ionizing radiation, but employs a magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs, soft tissues, bone, and virtually all other internal body structures.

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The diagnosis of abuse relies heavily on the presence of skeletal injuries, and high-quality skeletal surveys (a series of X-rays of all the bones in the body) are recommended to visualize the often subtle high-specificity fractures seen in infant abuse. Bruises are the most common sign of physical abuse, but subcutaneous tissue and muscle injuries are not currently evaluated with a global imaging technique in living children.

The study, performed at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, included 21 infants who underwent whole-body MRI for the evaluation of suspected child abuse. Summary skeletal survey and whole-body MRI identified 167 fractures or areas of skeletal signal abnormality. "Although our study results revealed that whole-body MRI is insensitive in the detection of classic metaphyseal lesions and rib fractures, we found it did identify soft-tissue injuries such as muscle edema and joint effusions that, in some cases, led to identifying additional fractures," said Jeannette M. Perez-Rossello, MD, lead author of the study.
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"Although our study indicates that whole-body MRI is currently unsuitable as a primary global skeletal imaging tool for suspected imaging abuse, it may be useful as a supplement to the skeletal survey in selected cases, particularly with regard to soft tissue injuries," said Perez-Rossello.



Source: Eurekalert
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