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Eur Radiol. 2008 Jul;18(7):1364-74. doi: 10.1007/s00330-008-0877-1. Epub 2008 Feb 13.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the fetal lung: a pictorial essay.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


Ultrasound, which is now a widely available and generally accepted, low-cost technique with real-time properties, is the screening investigation of choice in fetal medicine. However, enthusiasm for fetal prenatal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is rising, because of the absence of known biological risks, the increasing ease of performing of fetal MRI and the superb contrast resolution provided. Over the last 10 years, the technology has advanced dramatically. Fast imaging sequences have allowed better MRI visualization of the unborn patient than ever before. As a consequence, experience with fetal MRI is gradually expanding. We are beginning to appreciate the clinical conditions where fetal MRI can complement the ultrasound findings. Apart from the central nervous system, MRI of the fetal lung has received the most attention. Fetal MRI can be used to assess thoracic structural anomalies, lung development as well as maturation. The introduction of fetal therapy for severe lung hypoplasia, associated with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), has recently boosted the application. This review aims to highlight MRI techniques used to image the lungs of the unborn child and to point out their strengths and limitations in specific conditions.

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