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5 Minutes with: Kristine Padilla

kristine padilla

Kristine Padilla, Senior, Radiologic Technology Award Winning Display: Fetal MRI

Fetal MRI is a relatively new tool for viewing the developing fetus. First used in 1983, Fetal MRI provides cross-sectional, highly detailed imagery of the fetus and can ultimately help serve in the healthcare planning process for the unborn. Used in conjunction with other diagnostic modalities and lab tests in which fetal abnormalities are suspected, an MRI examination may confirm the abnormalities. Once the MRI examination has been evaluated, the confirmed diagnosis then can help provide parents with a deeper insight to help them plan and prepare what is best for their child. Fetal MRI is very useful in pre-surgical assessments for potential fetal surgeries or in-utero interventions and has proven to be greatly valuable with unique challenges within the delivery process.

– Kristine Padilla, abridged from “Fetal MRI”
Health Sciences 499a, Independent Study, Fall 2010 Semester

At the Annual meeting of the California Society of Radiologic Technologists, students from the Cal State Northridge Bachelor of Science degree program in Radiologic Technology took first, second and third place in the scientific display competition. The presentations were products of the Health Sciences 499a Independent Study in Radiologic Technology with Anita Slechta, MS, BSRT, ARRT(R)(M), REHS, FASRT.

First Place was awarded to CSUN Senior Lorie Falaminiano for her project, “The Roadmap to Success” a detailed study of interventional/therapeutic-radiographic procedures. Second place went to Senior Gabriella Di Paola for her display entitled, "Nazi Sterilization Experiments on Human Beings Using X-ray" and the Third Place prize went to Kristine Padilla, also a senior in the program, for her display, “Fetal MRI”.

As finals drew to a close, Kristine Padilla spent 5 Minutes with us to tell what motivated her to do her project, and what she learned in the process.

Q: What was it about Fetal MRI that interested you?

A: I had heard about Fetal MRI through some information we got about the work they do at Shriner’s Hospitals for Children and that MRI can be used for early detection potential birth complications or illness or birth defects. I was also impressed by how doctors can use the results of the imaging along with new techniques to help the baby while mother is pregnant and when child is newborn. I was curious about the ways that abnormalities could be detected to allow the earliest possible treatments.

Q: How did Professor Slechta help you prepare for your presentation at the conference?

A: Since this was Independent Study, we had a wider range of topics to explore than we might get in a regular class. So we were each asked to come up with topics that we wanted to know more about. As I worked on my project, I was also motivated by the staff and clinical coordinators who pushed us to learn more. The concept of the presentation was to show greater detail than can be covered in class – to expand our knowledge in radiology and share with others who are at the conference, which also provides continuing education credit for technologists. So as we worked on our projects, we learned as techs would in the professional world – expanding knowledge of our field. I completed my research and wrote the essay, and then created a display board using sections of the essay for the display and adding images. This wasn’t a verbal presentation, so we had to let the display do all the talking.

Q: Ultrasound is commonly known, did you find that Fetal MRI is also commonly used?

poster display about fetal MRI

A: Ultrasound is still the first approach to fetal imaging, but in my research I learned that MRI used along with ultrasound can verify diagnosis. MRI gives a different kind of image, too. It shows the anatomy of the fetus within the mother through cross-sectional slices and in various directional planes, so we can see much more detail of anatomic structures than we can with ultrasound. Also, ultrasound offers a smaller field of view than MRI. With ultrasound, the position of the fetus can hide conditions that we can see if we use MRI. Also, because of the nature of the imaging methods, MRI can get a clearer image than ultrasound in cases where the mother is obese or the amniotic fluid levels are low.

Q: What was it about your project that won the prize?

A: I like projects that bring together the scientific with my creative side. There is a lot of positive potential with Fetal MRI to improve or even save new lives. I think the judges liked the combination of thorough research and clear presentation.

Q: When you graduate, what do you want to do next?

A: I’m scheduled to graduate in August, 2011, and I want to get further into Fetal MRI and Of course learn new technology, new modalities. I recently had some experience in the Cardiac Catheter Lab, which is an area of high intensity – these are live x-rays that let doctors look inside the heart as it is working – you can see everything moving in real time and discover blockages, see disease. I want to learn more about this kind of technology. The thing with Radiology the more you learn, the more you can involve yourself and think ahead of the game, the more interesting and more fun the science becomes.

- Jean O'Sullivan