Kate Reed wins Faculty paper of the month for research on the role of MRI in late pregnancy

Image of a pregnant womanA paper published by Dr Kate Reed that looks at the use of Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI) in confirming or refuting the diagnosis of a range of pregnancy disorders has been voted the Faculty of Social Science's 'Paper of the Month' for November-December 2016.

'Visualising uncertainty: Examining women's views on the role of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in late pregnancy', by Kate Reed, Inna Kochetkova and Elspeth Whitby, was originally published in the Social Science and Medicine journal in September 2016.

The paper explores the emerging use of fetal MRI in the UK context, drawing on interviews with pregnant women, and contributes to conceptual debates on diagnostic uncertainty.

The paper's abstract explains: “MRI is often perceived in popular and medical discourse as a technology of certainty and truth. However, little is known about the use of MRI as a tool to confirm or refute the diagnosis of a range of disorders in pregnancy.

Drawing on qualitative research with pregnant women attending a fetal medicine clinic in the North of England this paper examines the potential role that MRI can play in mediating pregnancy uncertainty.”

The paper argues that MRI can create and manage women's feelings uncertainty during pregnancy. While MRI may not always provide women with unequivocal answers, the detailed information provided by MRI combined with the interpretation and communication skills of the radiologist enables women to navigate the issue.

Kate, Reader in Medical Sociology in the Department, is currently leading the ESRC-funded project ''End of' or 'Start Of' Life? Visual Technology and the Transformation of the Traditional Post-Mortem'.

The 30-month interdisciplinary project set out to bring together researchers, medical practitioners and technology manufacturers to explore how clinical applications of visual technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are impacting upon professional practice and parental experiences of loss.

Since the project began, the team - Kate Reed (Project Lead), Elspeth Whitby (Project Collaborator) and Julie Ellis (Researcher) - have spent time immersing themselves in the sites that relate to early life loss, in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the contexts in which post-mortem imaging is taking place. This involves taking time to understand the social implications of new technologies like MRI, and how this affects professional identity for those working in pathology and radiology.These two medical specialities have been required to collaborate as visual technology has become more important in post-mortems, starting with x-ray, then CT scanning and, more recently, MRI. In addition, it's been important to understand the process that grieving parents are going through, right from the stage when they are asked whether they would consider a post-mortem for their baby.

Find out more about the project here.