Rationale and objectives: This paper describes a novel approach to forming high-resolution MR images of the human fetal brain. It addresses the key problem of fetal motion by proposing a registration-refined compounding of multiple sets of orthogonal fast two-dimensional MRI slices, which are currently acquired for clinical studies, into a single high-resolution MRI volume.
Materials and methods: A robust multiresolution slice alignment is applied iteratively to the data to correct motion of the fetus that occurs between two-dimensional acquisitions. This is combined with an intensity correction step and a super-resolution reconstruction step, to form a single high isotropic resolution volume of the fetal brain.
Results: Experimental validation on synthetic image data with known motion types and underlying anatomy, together with retrospective application to sets of clinical acquisitions, are included.
Conclusion: Results indicate that this method promises a unique route to acquiring high-resolution MRI of the fetal brain in vivo allowing comparable quality to that of neonatal MRI. Such data provide a highly valuable window into the process of normal and abnormal brain development, which is directly applicable in a clinical setting.