Fetal lung apparent diffusion coefficient measurement using diffusion-weighted MRI at 3 Tesla: Correlation with gestational age

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2016 Dec;44(6):1650-1655. doi: 10.1002/jmri.25294. Epub 2016 May 9.


Purpose: To evaluate the feasibility of using diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) to assess the fetal lung apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) at 3 Tesla (T).

Materials and methods: Seventy-one pregnant women (32 second trimester, 39 third trimester) were scanned with a twice-refocused Echo-planar diffusion-weighted imaging sequence with 6 different b-values in 3 orthogonal diffusion orientations at 3T. After each scan, a region-of-interest (ROI) mask was drawn to select a region in the fetal lung and an automated robust maximum likelihood estimation algorithm was used to compute the ADC parameter. The amount of motion in each scan was visually rated.

Results: When scans with unacceptable levels of motion were eliminated, the lung ADC values showed a strong association with gestational age (P < 0.01), increasing dramatically between 16 and 27 weeks and then achieving a plateau around 27 weeks.

Conclusion: We show that to get reliable estimates of ADC values of fetal lungs, a multiple b-value acquisition, where motion is either corrected or considered, can be performed. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2016;44:1650-1655.

Keywords: ADC; diffusion MRI; fetal MRI; fetal lung; gestational age; motion artifacts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Diffusion
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / embryology*
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Statistics as Topic