Fetal magnetic resonance imaging of the brain: technical considerations and normal brain development

Eur Radiol. 2002 Aug;12(8):1941-51. doi: 10.1007/s00330-001-1209-x. Epub 2001 Dec 13.


Fetal MRI examines non-invasively the unborn fetus. Ultrafast MRI sequences effectively suppress fetal motion. Multiple case reports and studies have shown that fetal MRI is particularly helpful in the evaluation of the central nervous system. The high contrast-to-noise ratio, the high spatial resolution, the multiplanar capabilities, the large field of view and the simultaneous visualisation of fetal and maternal structures have proven to be advantageous. Fetal MRI is particularly helpful in the evaluation of the normal and pathological development of the brain. Despite the fact that no side effects have been reported or are to be expected, the use of MRI during pregnancy is still limited to the second and third trimester of pregnancy. Magnetic resonance imaging contrast media are not to be used as it passes the placenta. Ultrasound remains the primary screening modality for fetal pathology; fetal MRI can serve as an adjunct or second-line imaging modality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / embryology*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / standards
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • Safety


  • Contrast Media