Fetal MRI of the central nervous system: State-of-the-art

Eur J Radiol. 2017 Aug:93:273-283. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2017.06.004. Epub 2017 Jun 17.


Prenatal ultrasonographic (US) examination is considered as the first tool in the assessment of fetal abnormalities. However, several large-scale studies point out that some malformations, in particular central nervous system (CNS) anomalies, are not well characterized through US. Therefore, the actual malformation severity is not always related to prenatal ultrasound (US) findings. Over the past 20 years, ultrafast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has progressively increased as a prenatal 3rd level diagnostic technique with a good sensitivity, particularly for the study of fetal CNS malformations. In fact, CNS anomalies are the most common clinical indications for fetal MRI, representing about 80% of the total examinations. This review covers the recent literature on fetal brain MRI, with emphasis on techniques, safety and indications.

Keywords: CNS; Congenital CNS abnormality; Fetal MRI; Fetal anomalies; MRI; Prenatal CNS malformation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System / embryology*
  • Female
  • Fetus / abnormalities
  • Fetus / embryology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Nervous System Malformations / embryology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods