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Times Of India
11 June 2012

After coming down heavily on sonography centres, state authorities now train guns on MRI scans

After a crackdown on use of ultrasound sonography machines used to conduct illegal sex determination tests, the state health department plans to monitor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines that could also be used for the same purpose. The state and municipality want MRI machines to be brought under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.

If the proposal is implemented, a pregnant woman who undergoes an MRI test will have to fill in a five-page prescribed format as is presently mandatory for ultrasound sonographies. The form will include a slew of details – patient’s address, doctor’s details, reason specified by the doctor for the test among others. A radiologist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, that couples are opting for sex determination through MRI and the machine is not under the PCPNDT Act.

Chief of the Directorate of Health Services, Dr Archana Patil, confirmed that plans are afoot to include MRI machines under the purview of vigilance. “At the same time, it’s too early to say anything concrete since nothing has been planned so far. To begin with, we will form a committee of experts to know the technical aspects of the MRI test,” said Dr Patil.

Dr Patil, however, said that currently the focus is on monitoring sonography centres, and special squads have been formed to check illegal sex determination tests.

Dr Varsha Deshpande, a member of the central advisory committee on PCPNDT act, said that she had brought up the issue during a recent meeting with the state health minister. “Since it’s possible that people opt for an MRI test for sex determination, we had asked the government to monitor imaging machines like MRIs and CT scans which can give gender tests report under the act.”

“A CT scan too can determine the sex of a foetus but the chances of people going for the scan are slim as it can be harmful to the foetus. An MRI scan is safe as the machine does not emit any harmful radiations,” she said.

Dr Sanjay Oak, medical director of all major civic hospitals in the city, said that after the government’s strict action against sonography centres, one could opt for MRI for sex determination. “An MRI can reveal the gender of a foetus if the radiologist takes images between the legs.”

General secretary of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association, Dr Jignesh Thakker, said that the MRI is not done for sex determination. “The government can keep a check on MRI centres. But it would not help in any manner. It will only make people aware of the available option,” he said.

DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS
ULTRASOUND: An ultrasound sonography gives a live onscreen view of the state of the foetus. Often misused for sex determination, the tests are now being closely monitored. MRI: It is done in case of suspicion of brain anomaly, which an ultrasound sonography cannot detect. Determining the sex of a foetus is easy and safe with an MRI test. CT SCAN: The scan helps determine the sex of a foetus but chances of people going for this scan are slim since it can prove harmful to the foetus as it emits radiation.

A banner against female foeticide in Beed, which has one of the worst track records

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