Prenatal magnetic resonance imaging: brain normal linear biometric values below 24 gestational weeks

Neuroradiology. 2008 Oct;50(10):877-83. doi: 10.1007/s00234-008-0421-7. Epub 2008 Jun 19.


Introduction: Prenatal magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is currently used to measure quantitative data concerning brain structural development. At present, morphometric MR imaging studies have been focused mostly on the third trimester of gestational age. However, in many countries, because of legal restriction on abortion timing, the majority of MR imaging fetal examination has to be carried out during the last part of the second trimester of pregnancy (i.e., before the 24th week of gestation). Accurate and reliable normative data of the brain between 20 and 24 weeks of gestation is not available. This report provides easy and practical parametric support to assess those normative data.

Materials and methods: From a database of 1,200 fetal MR imaging studies, we retrospectively selected 84 studies of the brain of fetuses aged 20-24 weeks of gestation that resulted normal on clinical and radiological follow-up. Fetuses with proved or suspected infections, twin pregnancy, and fetuses of mothers affected by pathology that might have influenced fetal growth were excluded. Linear biometrical measurements of the main cerebral structures were obtained by three experienced pediatric neuroradiologists.

Results: A substantial interobserver agreement for each measurements was reached, and normative data with median, maximum, and minimum value were obtained for brain structures.

Conclusion: The knowledge of a range of normality and interindividual variability of linear biometrical values for the developing brain between 20th and 24th weeks of gestation may be valuable in assessing normal brain development in clinical settings.

MeSH terms

  • Biometry
  • Brain / embryology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Organ Maturity / physiology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Reference Values
  • Retrospective Studies