MR imaging of the placenta: what a radiologist should know

Abdom Imaging. 2013 Jun;38(3):573-87. doi: 10.1007/s00261-012-9929-8.


Imaging of the placenta can have a profound impact on patient management, owing to the morbidity and mortality associated with various placental conditions. Placental conditions affecting the mother and fetus include molar pregnancies, placental hematoma, abruption, previa, accreta, vasa previa, chorioangioma, and retained products of conception. Although uncommon, abnormalities of the placenta are important to recognize owing to the potential for maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Sonography remains the first imaging modality for evaluation of the placenta. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has many unique properties that make it well-suited for imaging of the placenta: the multi-planar capabilities, the improved tissue contrast that can be obtained using a variety of pulse sequences and parameters and the lack of ionizing radiation; MR imaging can be of added diagnostic value when further characterization is required. In this article, we review the appearances and the role of MRI in diagnosis and management of these conditions. We present our clinical perspective on diagnosing these challenging problems with MRI and review the imaging findings that can lead to a correct diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Myometrium / pathology
  • Placenta / pathology*
  • Placenta Accreta / diagnosis
  • Placenta Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Placenta Previa / diagnosis
  • Placentation / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Radiology