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Eur Radiol. 2003 Jul;13(7):1538-48. Epub 2003 Apr 15.

The value of fast MR imaging as an adjunct to ultrasound in prenatal diagnosis.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University Hospitals, Herestraat 49, 3000, Leuven, Belgium,


The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of MR imaging of the fetus to improve sonographic prenatal diagnosis of congenital anomalies. In 40 fetuses (not consecutive cases) with an abnormality diagnosed with ultrasound, additional MR imaging was performed. The basic sequence was a T2-weighted single-shot half Fourier (HASTE) technique. Head, neck, spinal, thoracic, urogenital, and abdominal fetal pathologies were found. This retrospective, observational study compared MR imaging findings with ultrasonographic findings regarding detection, topography, and etiology of the pathology. The MR findings were evaluated as superior, equal to, or inferior compared with US, in consent with the referring gynecologists. The role of these findings in relation to pregnancy management was studied and compared with postnatal follow-up in 30 of 40 babies. Fetal MRI technique was successful in 36 of 39 examinations and provided additional information in 21 of 40 fetuses (one twin pregnancy with two members to evaluate). More precise anatomy and location of fetal pathology (20 of 40 cases) and additional etiologic information (8 of 40 cases) were substantial advantages in cerebrospinal abnormalities [ventriculomegaly, encephalocele, vein of Galen malformation, callosal malformations, meningo(myelo)cele], in retroperitoneal abnormalities (lymphangioma, renal agenesis, multicystic renal dysplasia), and in neck/thoracic pathology [cervical cystic teratoma, congenital hernia diaphragmatica, congenital cystic adenomatoid lung malformation (CCAM)]. This improved parental counseling and pregnancy management in 15 pregnancies. In 3 cases, prenatal MRI findings did not correlate with prenatal ultrasonographic findings or neonatal diagnosis. The MRI provided a more detailed description and insight into fetal anatomy, pathology, and etiology in the vast majority of these selected cases. This improved prenatal parental counseling and postnatal therapeutic planning.

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