Detection of abnormal extracardiac development in fetuses with congenital heart defects


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MRI as a useful adjunct to ultrasound for the evaluation of extracardiac abnormalities in fetuses with congenital heart disease. Credit: Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock

Newborns with heart defects also frequently have abnormal extracardial development of the brain or other organs. Fetal MRI, a magnetic resonance imaging procedure that can be performed on the unborn child, can detect these abnormalities at an early stage. In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the team led by Gregor Dovjak from the Department of Biomedical Imaging and Image-Guided Therapy in collaboration with the Division of Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine of MedUni Vienna and Vienna University Hospital demonstrates the importance of fetal MRI in the diagnosis of congenital anomalies.

Heart defects are among the most common birth defects and affect almost 1% of all newborns. An early and comprehensive assessment of fetuses with heart abnormalities diagnosed by ultrasound using fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other techniques is important for the care of the child with the abnormality heart disease and the diagnosis of any other abnormalities, both before and after birth.

A new study conducted by the Department of Biomedical Imaging and Image-Guided Therapy in collaboration with the Division of Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of MedUni Vienna and the University Hospital of Vienna shows that nearly 57% of fetuses with heart abnormalities also had at least one other abnormality on MRI, and about a quarter of all fetuses had structural brain abnormalities. According to the study, the severity of the heart defect has no influence on the rate of extracardiac abnormalities in other organs. The study involved 442 fetuses with heart defects between the 17th and 38th week of gestation.

MRI as a useful adjunct to ultrasound for the evaluation of extracardiac abnormalities in fetuses with congenital heart disease

“Currently, fetal MRI is not universally used for prenatal evaluation of fetuses with heart defects. However, our results suggest that fetal MRI is a useful adjunct to ultrasound,” said Gregor Dovjak, lead author of the study, speaking about the new findings.

Fetal MRI can be used to obtain high-resolution images of fetal organs, regardless of the mother’s body weight or how much amniotic fluid is present. This reliable prenatal imaging helps identify abnormalities and initiate additional treatment steps at an early stage. A particular strength of fetal MRI is the precise assessment of structural abnormalities in the brain that are sometimes difficult to detect using ultrasound. One of the main fetal MRI centers in Europe is located within the Department of Biomedical Imaging and Image Guided Therapy, where several fetal MRIs are performed daily.


MRIs more precisely define and detect certain abnormalities in unborn babies


More information:
Gregor O. Dovjak et al, Abnormal extracardiac development in fetuses with congenital heart disease, Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.ddd.2021.09.1358

Provided by Vienna Medical University


Quote: Detection of Abnormal Extracardiac Development in Fetuses with Congenital Heart Defects (2021, December 20) Retrieved December 21, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-12-abnormal-extracardiac-fetuses-congenital- heart.html

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