German researchers capture first birth on open MRI

Doctors in Germany have captured a live birth by open MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) for the first time, offering insight into potential pregnancy complications, Berlin's Charite hospital said.

"The main reasons for the research are to answer the question of why a birth may stall and to visually capture the birthing process and any complications," said Dr Christian Bamberg, a physician on the research team.

A stalled birth often results in a Caesarean delivery, which carries risks to mother and baby. One in three births in Germany are delivered by Caesarean, government statistics show.

The MRI images allow the team of researchers to observe the first stage of labour in three dimensions, showing detailed visuals where previous scans were either too poor in quality or too dangerous for the mother and foetus, Bamberg said.

"The images are spectacular," Bamberg said. "They show which movements the foetus makes in the birth canal, how its bones move and how its head changes shape during birth."

The birth was on November 20 and the scan lasted one hour. (Reuters Health/ November 2010)

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