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Radiographics. 1999 Oct;19 Spec No:S201-14.

Normal anatomy of the fetus at MR imaging.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Texas Medical School, Houston, USA.


Owing to recent advances in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, the role of obstetric MR imaging has increased in cases in which the results of ultrasonography are equivocal. Fast MR imaging sequences, such as T2-weighted fast spin-echo (SE), half-Fourier single-shot fast SE, 0.5-signal-acquired single-shot fast SE, and echo-planar imaging, have virtually eliminated the need for fetal premedication, with a concomitant improvement in image resolution and diminished blurring. Artifacts related to maternal respiratory motion and fetal motion no longer limit the anatomic detail that can be demonstrated with MR imaging. With such advances in obstetric MR imaging, knowledge of normal fetal anatomy at MR imaging is essential to detect disease in utero. MR imaging can demonstrate fetal anatomy in detail, especially the brain, thorax, abdomen, pelvis, and vasculature. Major developmental structures of the fetus, particularly the cranial nervous system, naso- and oropharynx, lungs, and major abdominal viscera, can be adequately evaluated with targeted fast MR imaging as early as the beginning of the second trimester. However, MR imaging of the heart remains limited. Fetal MR imaging during the first trimester remains controversial secondary to biosafety issues and is limited due to diminutive fetal size.

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