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Radiology. 2013 Jul;268(1):200-7. doi: 10.1148/radiol.13111715. Epub 2013 Feb 25.

Development and validation of a semiquantitative brain maturation score on fetal MR images: initial results.

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Department of Radiology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 324 S 34th St, Wood 2115, Philadelphia, PA 19004, USA.



To develop a valid, reliable, and simple-to-use semiquantitative visual scale of fetal brain maturation for use in clinical fetal MR imaging assessment and interpretation.


This is a retrospective assessment of data from a previous study that was prospective, institutional review board approved, and HIPAA compliant. Forty-eight normal pregnancies with a gestational age (GA) of 25 to 35 weeks were studied. A fetal total maturation score (fTMS) was developed by utilizing six subscores that evaluated cortical sulcation, myelination, and the germinal matrix and provided a single combined numerical value to be evaluated as a marker of brain maturity. The fTMS was correlated with GA and segmented brain volume. A regression model that associated GA based on the visual fTMS scoring was determined. The model was validated with a leave-one-out cross validation procedure.


Mean GA was 29.3 weeks ± 2.9 (standard deviation) (range, 25.2-35.3 weeks) and mean fTMS was 8.6 ± 3.7 (range, 4-16). The intraclass correlation coefficient between the three readers (independent and blinded) was 0.948 (P < .001). The correlations were as follows: GA and brain volume, r = 0.964 (P < .001); fTMS and brain volume, r = 0.970 (P < .001); and GA and fTMS, r = 0.975 (P < .001). A regression model to calculate GA based on fTMS yielded the following equation: calculated GA (weeks) = 22.86 + 0.748 fTMS (P < .001; adjusted R(2) = 0.946). The standard error of the model for calculation of fetal GA from the visual fTMS scale was ± 4.8 days.


If validated further, the fTMS scale might be used to assess morphologic brain maturity of fetuses between 25 and 35 weeks GA on a single-case basis in a clinical setting.

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