The Simulator that will Help Children Undergo an MRI Exam without Anesthesia

Good news: Researchers and students from the mechanical engineering department at the Be’er Sheva campus, in cooperation with the Soroka Medical Center, developed a simulator that will help children undergo an MRI without anesthesia

This is an innovative project that will spare children general anesthesia and their parents the worry while saving valuable machine time that can be used for other patients. As their final project, the students Bar Azulai, Avia Ben Shalom, Sasson Mekonnen and Avi Baruch, under the guidance of the lecturers Dr. Efi Zemach and Dr. Yoav Biton, designed and developed a simulator that is identical to an MRI machine used for imaging at the Soroka Medical Center and simulates its operation. 

The simulator was developed during the year in full coordination with expert physicians, among them Prof. Ilan Shelef, Chief of Radiology and Prof. David Greenberg, Chairperson of the Pediatric Division, both from the Soroka Medical Center.

After completing the design and development stage manufacturing of the simulator will begin, at a cost of about NIS 50 thousand per machine – “a negligible price compared to the price of a real MRI machine”, noted Dr. Zemach. “The aim is to install the simulator at the Soroka Medical Center in about three months”.

The project includes an electric patient bed, similar to the MRI machine, as well as a control system that can identify the child’s movement during preparation and an indicator alerting the trainer and the child using suitable lighting, in addition to other supporting systems – including an audio system simulating the noises of the real machine and a panic button.

Dr. Zemach: “This is a breakthrough project, the first of its kind in Israel and of practical medical significance in that it will spare children general anesthesia, in addition to valuable machine time”. In order to obtain quality results from the MRI examination the patient must lie inside the machine without moving for 10-20 minutes, something which is not easy for adults, let alone for children. A patient’s movement during the exam impairs the quality of the results, and sometimes the results cannot even be interpreted, in which case the patient must redo the scan.

Prof. Yehuda Haddad, SCE President: “Such an innovative product will significantly help medical teams and patients, particularly children”.