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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Jun;206(6):505.e1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2012.01.011. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Human birth observed in real-time open magnetic resonance imaging.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics, Charité University Hospital Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



Knowledge about the mechanism of labor is based on assumptions and radiographic studies performed decades ago. The goal of this study was to describe the relationship between the fetus and the pelvis as the fetus travels through the birth canal, using an open magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner.


The design of the study used a real-time MRI series during delivery of the fetal head.


Delivery occurred by progressive head extension. However, extension was a very late movement that was observed when the occiput was in close contact with the inferior margin of the symphysis pubis, occurring simultaneously with gliding downward of the fetal head.


This observational study shows, for the first time, that birth can be analyzed with real-time MRI. MRI technology allows assessment of maternal and fetal anatomy during labor and delivery.

Copyright © 2012 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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