Safety of repeated hyperpolarized helium 3 magnetic resonance imaging in pediatric asthma patients

Nanae Tsuchiya, Mark L. Schiebler, Michael D. Evans, Robert V. Cadman, Ronald L. Sorkness, Robert F. Lemanske, Daniel J. Jackson, Nizar N. Jarjour, Loren C. Denlinger, Sean B. Fain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hyperpolarized helium 3 magnetic resonance imaging (3He MRI) is useful for investigating pulmonary physiology of pediatric asthma, but a detailed assessment of the safety profile of this agent has not been performed in children. Objective: To evaluate the safety of 3He MRI in children and adolescents with asthma. Materials and methods: This was a retrospective observational study. 3He MRI was performed in 66 pediatric patients (mean age 12.9 years, range 8–18 years, 38 male, 28 female) between 2007 and 2017. Fifty-five patients received a single repeated examination and five received two repeated examinations. We assessed a total of 127 3He MRI exams. Heart rate, respiratory rate and pulse oximetry measured oxygen saturation (SpO2) were recorded before, during (2 min and 5 min after gas inhalation) and 1 h after MRI. Blood pressure was obtained before and after MRI. Any subjective symptoms were also noted. Changes in vital signs were tested for significance during the exam and divided into three subject age groups (8–12 years, 13–15 years, 16–18 years) using linear mixed-effects models. Results: There were no serious adverse events, but three minor adverse events (2.3%; headache, dizziness and mild hypoxia) were reported. We found statistically significant increases in heart rate and SpO2 after 3He MRI. The youngest age group (8–12 years) had an increased heart rate and a decreased respiratory rate at 2 min and 5 min after 3H inhalation, and an increased SpO2 post MRI. Conclusion: The use of 3He MRI is safe in children and adolescents with asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)646-655
Number of pages10
JournalPediatric Radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the nurse coordinators (Jan Yakey, RN, and Molly Ellertson, RN) and research technologists — Kelly Hellenbrand, RT(R), Sara John RT(R), and Janelle Grogan RT(R) — who supported the safety monitoring, data acquisition and regulatory reporting for the MRI components for the studies in this work. Parts of this work were funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI): U10 HL109168, P01 HL070831 (COAST), R01 HL126771 (SARP), NIH/National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) Pulmonary Imaging Center S10 OD016394. This project was also supported in part by the University of Wisconsin, Department of Radiology, Research and Development Fund, and by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Asthma
  • Children
  • Helium
  • Lung
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Safety

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Observational Study


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