Does 3T Fetal MRI Improve Image Resolution of Normal Brain Structures between 20 and 24 Weeks’ Gestational Age?

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Stronger magnetic fields have the potential to improve fetal image resolution. Our objective was to detect whether there was better anatomic resolution of brain structures in fetuses imaged with a 3T magnet compared with a 1.5T magnet.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Multiple cerebral and facial anatomic structures were retrospectively assessed in 28 fetal MR imaging scans with normal findings (12 at 3T and 16 at 1.5T) with a 0–3 grading score. Fetuses were assessed during the second trimesters (gestational age, 20–24 weeks). The association between the quality ratings and magnetic field strengths (1.5T versus 3T) was evaluated by a linear mixed-effects model. A quantitative assessment of the signal intensity was also performed in the different layers of the developing brain. Comparative log-ratios were calculated across the different layers of the fetal brain.

RESULTS: There was a statistically significant interaction between location and magnetic field strength (P < .001). The cerebral structures of the cerebellum, pons, venous system, semicircular canal, and cochlea showed statistically significant higher values on the 3T magnet. Similarly, statistical significance was also obtained on the quantitative assessment of the multilayer appearance of the brain; the 3T magnet had a median factor of 8.38 higher than the 1.5T magnet (95% CI, 4.73–14.82). Other anatomic structures assessed in the supratentorial compartment of the brain showed higher values on the 3T magnet with no statistical significance.

CONCLUSIONS: Both magnets depict cerebral and facial normal anatomic structures; however, our data indicates better anatomic detail on the 3T than on the 1.5T magnet.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Elka Miller

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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