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J Cardiovasc Magn Reson. 2013 May 21;15:40. doi: 10.1186/1532-429X-15-40.

Preliminary experience with cardiovascular magnetic resonance in evaluation of fetal cardiovascular anomalies.

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Department of Radiology, Shanghai Children’s Medical Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200127, China.



The cardiovascular system is the part of the fetal anatomy that most frequently suffers from congenital pathology. This study shows our preliminary experience with fetal cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) to evaluate congenital cardiovascular abnormalities.


Between January 2006 and June 2011, Prenatal routine obstetric ultrasound (US), echocardiography and CMR data from 68 pregnant women carrying fetuses with congenital cardiovascular anomalies were compared with postnatal diagnoses (postnatal imagings, surgery and autopsy). All prenatal CMR was performed at 1.5 T. Imaging sequences included steady-state free-precession (SSFP) sequences, real-time SSFP and single-shot turbo spin echo (SSTSE) sequences. The images were analyzed with an anatomic segmental approach by two radiologists.


Fetal CMR yielded the same diagnosis as postnatal findings in 79% (54/68) of patients. The diagnostic sensitivity of routine obstetric US for cardiac anomalies was 46% (31/68). The diagnostic sensitivity of fetal echocardiographic examination by a fetal cardiac specialist was 82% (56/68). In 2 (3%) of 68 cases, diagnoses with both echocardiography and CMR were incorrect when compared with postnatal diagnosis. In ten (15%) cases, diagnosis at echocardiography was incorrect and that at CMR was correct. In twelve (18%) cases, diagnosis at echocardiography was correct and that at CMR was incorrect. Ten cases missed or misdiagnosed by echocardiography but correctly diagnosed by fetal CMR included asplenia syndrome (n = 2), interrupted inferior vena cava of polysplenia syndrome (n = 1), tricuspid incompetence (n = 1), double outlet right ventricle (n = 2), double aortic arch (n = 1), right pulmonary artery hypoplasia (n = 1), right-sided aortic arch of tetralogy of Fallot (n = 1) and hypoplastic left heart syndrome of a twin fetus (n = 1).


Fetal CMR is a promising diagnostic tool for assessment of congenital cardiovascular abnormalities, especially in situations that limit echocardiography.

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