Small Structures Big Challenges: Fetal Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Matthias Stuber et al.
Department of Radiology, University Hospital (CHUV) and University of Lausanne (UNIL), Lausanne, Switzerland
Center for Biomedical Imaging (CIBM), Lausanne, Switzerland | 16-11-2018
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect affecting nearly 1% of pregnancies in Europe. Gestational screening has greatly improved antenatal diagnosis of heart malformations and several prenatal interventions now exist to treat CHD in utero, or soon after birth. The timing and type of treatment relies heavily on the ability to accurately visualize a given cardiac malformation. Cardiac MRI has now become an active area of research for fetal1 heart imaging. Despite encouraging advances, there remain significant challenges for fetal cardiac MRI, including the small size and the high rate of the fetal heart, the absence of a conventional fetal cardiac gating signal, and the numerous sources of motion artifacts, such as gross fetal movement, and maternal respiration. However, if these challenges can be addressed, it has been shown that MRI has the potential to provide complimentary information to echocardiography, improve our ability to monitor CHD diagnosed in utero, and better help guide treatments and decision making.
1MR scanning has not been established as safe for imaging fetuses and infants less than two years of age. The responsible physician must evaluate the benefits of the MR examination compared to those of other imaging procedures.