Evolution of subarachnoid space in normal fetuses using magnetic resonance imaging

Prenat Diagn. 2005 Dec;25(13):1217-22. doi: 10.1002/pd.1315.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to measure the fetal subarachnoid spaces at different sites of the brain using magnetic resonance (MR) images and analyze them in relation to gestational age.

Methods: Fetal MR images were obtained from 158 fetuses between 18 and 39 weeks of gestation who later showed no neurological problems. We bilaterally measured the distance between the superoanterior gyrus and the cranium as the frontal subarachnoid space (FSS) and the distance between the cortex in the parieto-occipital sulcus and the cranium as the parietal subarachnoid space (PSS). We also measured the cisterna magna between the cerebellar vermis and the cranium. Each of these was analyzed in relation to gestational age.

Results: The width of the FSS began to decrease significantly at 32 weeks of gestation (P < 0.05). The width of the PSS started to decrease significantly at 34 weeks of gestation (P < 0.05). There was no difference between the right and left sides (P < 0.05). The size of the cisterna magna showed a positive correlation with gestational age (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Measurement of the subarachnoid space is potentially useful for evaluating fetal development.

MeSH terms

  • Cisterna Magna / embryology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subarachnoid Space / embryology*