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Study Recommends Additional MR Exam for Fetal Brain Abnormalities

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 20 Dec 2016
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Image: An example of a fetal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan (Photo courtesy of Action Medical Research).
Image: An example of a fetal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan (Photo courtesy of Action Medical Research).
Researchers have found that potential brain abnormalities discovered in a routine mid-pregnancy ultrasound scan, can be diagnosed accurately using an additional MRI scan.

The study included 570 pregnant women who had undergone an ultrasound scan between weeks 18 and 21 of their pregnancy that showed a possible brain abnormality in the baby. Nearly 93% of the extra Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans that were carried out within two weeks of the initial ultrasound scan were correct, and increased the accuracy of the diagnosis. In the case of pregnant women who underwent only the mid-pregnancy ultrasound scan the accuracy rate was only 68%. In nearly half the cases (49%) the MRI scan provided additional information about the brain abnormality.

The study was published in the December 14, 2016, online issue of the journal Lancet. To confirm the accuracy of the scans, the babies were scanned again after birth. The additional certainty provided by the MRI scan enabled the clinicians to arrive at a more accurate diagnosis, and provide better advice to the parents of the babies.

Lead author of the study, professor Paul Griffiths, the University of Sheffield (Sheffield, UK), said, "This study is the first of its kind and has shown that adding an MRI scan when a problem is detected provides additional information to support parents making decisions about their pregnancy. Based on our findings we propose that an MRI scan should be given in any pregnancy where the foetus may have a suspected brain abnormality."

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