MR venography of the fetal brain using susceptibility weighted imaging
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PURPOSE: To evaluate the feasibility of performing fetal brain magnetic resonance venography using susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI). MATERIALS AND METHODS: After obtaining informed consent, pregnant women in the second and third trimester were imaged using a modified SWI sequence. Fetal SWI acquisition was repeated when fetal or maternal motion was encountered. The median and maximum number of times an SWI sequence was repeated was four and six respectively. All SWI image data were systematically evaluated by a pediatric neuroradiologist for image quality using an ordinal scoring scheme: 1. diagnostic; 2. diagnostic with artifacts; and 3. nondiagnostic. The best score in an individual fetus was used for further statistical analysis. Visibility of venous vasculature was also scored using a dichotomous variable. A subset of SWI data was re-evaluated by the first and independently by a second pediatric neuroradiologist. Kappa coefficients were computed to assess intra-rater and inter-rater reliability. RESULTS: SWI image data from a total of 22 fetuses were analyzed. Median gestational age and interquartile range of the fetuses imaged were 32 (29.9-34.9) weeks. In 68.2% of the cases (n = 15), there was no artifact; 22.7% (n = 5) had minor artifacts and 9.1% (n = 2) of the data was of nondiagnostic quality. Cerebral venous vasculature was visible in 86.4% (n = 19) of the cases. Substantial agreement (Kappa = 0.73; 95% confidence interval 0.44-1.00)) was observed for intra-rater reliability and moderate agreement (Kappa = 0.48; 95% confidence interval 0.19-0.77) was observed for inter-rater reliability. CONCLUSION: It is feasible to perform fetal brain venography in humans using SWI.
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