Purpose: Fetal MRI volumetry is a useful technique but it is limited by a dependency upon motion-free scans, tedious manual segmentation, and spatial inaccuracy due to thick-slice scans. An image processing pipeline that addresses these limitations was developed and tested.
Materials and methods: The principal sequences acquired in fetal MRI clinical practice are multiple orthogonal single-shot fast spin echo scans. State-of-the-art image processing techniques were used for inter-slice motion correction and super-resolution reconstruction of high-resolution volumetric images from these scans. The reconstructed volume images were processed with intensity non-uniformity correction and the fetal brain extracted by using supervised automated segmentation.
Results: Reconstruction, segmentation and volumetry of the fetal brains for a cohort of twenty-five clinically acquired fetal MRI scans was done. Performance metrics for volume reconstruction, segmentation and volumetry were determined by comparing to manual tracings in five randomly chosen cases. Finally, analysis of the fetal brain and parenchymal volumes was performed based on the gestational age of the fetuses.
Conclusion: The image processing pipeline developed in this study enables volume rendering and accurate fetal brain volumetry by addressing the limitations of current volumetry techniques, which include dependency on motion-free scans, manual segmentation, and inaccurate thick-slice interpolation.