Scientists release first 'cinematic MRI' of live birth

The video, which captures the second stage of labor, offers a new view of the position and movement of a fetus through the birth canal.

Let's get one thing straight up front: the term "cinematic" does not in this instance mean it's time to order up some popcorn. There's no color, no dramatic score, no super slow-mo to announce the climax. This is gritty black-and-white footage of a woman giving birth.

The scientists were able to convince this woman to deliver her baby inside this open MRI scanner, which they designed specifically for this study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

But don't let the grit fool you into thinking it's low tech. The world's first birth in an MRI machine was announced by scientists at Charite University Hospital in Berlin back in December 2010, and they're only now releasing the 25-second video, which was made by the arduous process of joining a series of magnetic resonance images of the same slice of the body.

The footage, by the way, comes just weeks after a similar video was released capturing fetal twins. In that instance, scientists wanted a better view of the fetuses to try to study how and why one was receiving more of the blood supply and thus becoming larger than its twin.

Footage of the live birth, meanwhile, is providing the team in Berlin with a clearer view than ever of the precise position and movement of a fetus through the birth canal, which could in turn help inform doctors, midwives, and nurses assessing high-risk pregnancies and deliveries.

The team says it hopes to image the first stage of labor in this manner as well.

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About the author

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.

 

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