Assessment of Placental Stiffness Using Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse Elastography in Pregnant Women with Fetal Anomalies

Korean J Radiol. Mar-Apr 2016;17(2):218-23. doi: 10.3348/kjr.2016.17.2.218. Epub 2016 Mar 2.


Objective: We aimed to evaluate placental stiffness measured by acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) elastography in pregnant women in the second trimester with a normal fetus versus those with structural anomalies and non-structural findings.

Materials and methods: Forty pregnant women carrying a fetus with structural anomalies diagnosed sonographically at 18-28 weeks of gestation comprised the study group. The control group consisted of 34 healthy pregnant women with a sonographically normal fetus at a similar gestational age. Placental shear wave velocity (SWV) was measured by ARFI elastography and compared between the two groups. Structural anomalies and non-structural findings were scored based on sonographic markers. Placental stiffness measurements were compared among fetus anomaly categories. Doppler parameters of umbilical and uterine arteries were compared with placental SWV measurements.

Results: All placental SWV measurements, including minimum SWV, maximum SWV, and mean SWV were significantly higher in the study group than the control group ([0.86 ± 0.2, 0.74 ± 0.1; p < 0.001], [1.89 ± 0.7, 1.59 ± 0.5; p = 0.04], and [1.26 ± 0.4, 1.09 ± 0.2; p = 0.01]), respectively.

Conclusion: Placental stiffness evaluated by ARFI elastography during the second trimester in pregnant women with fetuses with congenital structural anomalies is higher than that of pregnant women with normal fetuses.

Keywords: Acoustic radiation force impulse elastography; Fetal anomaly; Placenta stiffness; Ultrasonography.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques*
  • Female
  • Fetus / abnormalities*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Placenta / diagnostic imaging
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Young Adult