Researchers in Germany viewed a live birth with an MRI machine

By Winni Jeong

Researchers in Germany viewed a live birth with an MRI machine for the first time in order to study how the fetus and the mother’s pelvis interact during birth.  As New Scientist reported, the birth took place in 2010, but the video was only released recently. It is the first time such a video has been released to the general public. The study, published in the June 2012 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, says that the video shows “the active second stage of labor, when the mother starts performing expulsive efforts with the valsalva maneuver.” The researchers stopped the MRI machine before the second stage in order to prevent possible damage to the baby’s ears from noise of the machine.

MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, uses radio waves and powerful magnetic fields to create images of structures within the body. This in turn allowed scientists to clearly see the way that fetus and pelvis interact during birth. This scientific advancement could lead to more progress being made in the future regarding pregnancy and childbirth. The video will give researchers more information about the fetus as it travels through the birth canal, and the fetus’ location in regards to the pelvis. Doctors could potentially utilize this information and can help doctors learn more about how to deliver and manage labor or make decisions on how to proceed in certain situations regarding pregnancy. For example, videos like this may be able to show doctors when a fetus will need to be delivered by cesarean delivery (C Section) well before it may be too late. Researchers also hope that this method can be used to make real-time videos that can instruct others through virtual reality about safe birthing methods. The uses of MRI technology are rapidly growing, with more and more advances being made every year towards a device that can clearly and accurately view the body in a completely safe way.