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Virtual Childbirth Simulator Improves Safety of High-Risk Deliveries
Date:11/28/2011

CHICAGO, Nov. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Newly developed computer software combined with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of a fetus may help physicians better assess a woman's potential for a difficult childbirth. Results of a study using the new software were presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Because a woman's birth canal is curved and not much wider than a fetus's head, a baby must move through the canal in a specific sequence of maneuvers. A failure in the process, such as a head turned the wrong way at the wrong time, can result in dystocia, or difficult labor.

"The mechanics of the human birth canal make for a very complicated delivery process compared to other mammals," said Olivier Ami, M.D., Ph.D., an obstetrician in the Department of Radiology at Antoine Beclere's Hospital, Université Paris Sud, France. "We now have computer-simulated childbirth to identify potential problems."

Using the new software, called PREDIBIRTH, Dr. Ami and a team of researchers processed MR images of 24 pregnant women. The result was a three-dimensional (3-D) reconstruction of both the pelvis and the fetus along with 72 possible trajectories of the baby's head through the birth canal. Based on these simulations, the program scored each mother's likelihood of a normal birth.

"This goes beyond simple imaging," Dr. Ami said. "The software simulates the properties of potential deliveries."

For purposes of the study, the PREDIBIRTH scores were computed retrospectively and measured against delivery outcomes for the 24 women. Thirteen women delivered normally. These deliveries were scored as highly favorable by the simulator. Three women who delivered by elective cesarean-section (C-section)—two of which involved babies of excessive weight—were scored at high risk for dystocia.

Of the five women delivered by emergency C-section, two involved heart rhythm abnormaliti
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SOURCE Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)
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