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Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2013 Oct;18(5):286-97. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2013.05.006. Epub 2013 Jun 3.

Potential of magnetic resonance for imaging the fetal heart.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Medical University of Vienna, AKH, Vienna, Austria.


Significant congenital heart disease (sCHD) affects 3.6 per 1000 births, and is often associated with extracardiac and chromosomal anomalies. Although early mortality has been substantially reduced and the rate of long-term survival has improved, sCHD is, after preterm birth, the second most frequent cause of neonatal infant death. The prenatal detection of cardiac and vascular abnormalities enables optimal parental counselling and perinatal management. Echocardiography (ECG) is the first-line examination and gold standard by which cardiac malformations are defined. However, adequate examination by an experienced healthcare provider with modern technical imaging equipment is required. In addition, maternal factors and the gestational age may lower the image quality. Fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been implemented over the last several years and is already used in the clinical routine as a second-line approach to assess fetal abnormalities. MRI of the fetal heart is still not routinely performed. Nevertheless, fetal cardiac MRI has the potential to complement ultrasound in detecting cardiovascular malformations and extracardiac lesions. The present work reviews the potential of MRI to delineate the anatomy and pathologies of the fetal heart. This work also deals with the limitations and continuing developments designed to overcome the current problems in cardiac imaging, including fast fetal heart rates, the lack of ECG-gating, and the presence of fetal movements.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Congenital heart disease; Fetal heart; Magnetic resonance imaging

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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