A large international collaboration led by researchers from the Hudson Institute for Medical Research and Monash University has revealed that the ventilation of preterm babies to prevent lung collapse could create a risk of brain injury.
A/Prof Flora Wong, a researcher at Hudson Institute and Monash University, and consultant neonatologist at Monash Children’s Hospital, and a team of physiologists used the Imaging and Medical beamline (IMBL) at the Australian Synchrotron to acquire extremely clear and detailed images of blood vessels in large, preterm clinical models, in an investigation to determine if the pressure of lung ventilation affected blood vessels and blood flow.
A/Prof Wong said the group have shown that higher lung pressure causes engorgement and stretching of the brain blood vessels, which could slow down blood flow in the brain.
“This may play a role in preterm brain injury,” she said.
Because of the findings, A/Prof Wong alerted hospitals to carefully monitor their ventilation of preterm babies, who now survive after as few as 23 weeks gestation.
IMBL Principal Scientist Dr Daniel Hausermann, a co-author on the paper published in The Journal of Physiology, said that in vivo CT imaging of dynamic physiological processes, such as blood flow, can be captured quickly in real-time video on the IMBL beamline.
Read more on the Australian synchrotron website
Image: Micro-angiography showing micro-vessels