Fetal Lung Volumes by MRI: Normal Weekly Values From 18 Through 38 Weeks' Gestation

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2018 Aug;211(2):432-438. doi: 10.2214/AJR.17.19469. Epub 2018 Jun 12.


Objective: The purpose of this study is to establish normal total fetal lung volume reference ranges from 18 to 38 weeks' gestation at 1-week intervals.

Materials and methods: A retrospective analysis of 665 patients who underwent fetal MRI at two tertiary fetal centers from 2001 to 2013 was performed. Total fetal lung volume was measured in at least two planes, either manually or using a 3D workstation. The mean, median, SD, minimum, maximum, and lower and upper quartiles for total fetal lung volume were determined per gestational week. A t test was used to compare our values to previously reported values. A new formula to calculate total fetal lung volume derived from our data was created using a regression model. Comparisons between total fetal lung volume obtained by different imaging planes and manual versus semiautomatic calculation were also performed.

Results: The mean normal total fetal lung volume showed a weekly increase from 18 through 35 weeks' gestation. Means were compared with the expected total fetal lung volume generated by the Rypens formula, showing statistically significant lower mean total fetal lung volume from week 19 to week 22 (p < 0.05). Comparison between our data-derived total fetal lung volume formula and the Rypens formula showed very similar values at every gestational age. No difference in total fetal lung volume was seen when comparing imaging planes or manual versus semiautomatic methods.

Conclusion: Measured mean total fetal lung volume values at 19-22 weeks are significantly lower than those predicted by the Rypens formula. Therefore, we propose preferential use of our values for prenatal counseling and delivery planning.

Keywords: fetal imaging; fetal lung volume; pediatric imaging; prenatal imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fetus / embryology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / embryology*
  • Lung Volume Measurements*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Reference Values
  • Retrospective Studies