Fetal MRI Study

Fetal MRIUCSF is one of the few sites in the country that is experienced with performing and interpreting fetal MRI. We have performed fetal MRI since 1996. The findings from our fetal MRI study will help us provide pregnant women with the most advanced and accurate information during their pregnancy.

First, we would like to see how accurately fetal MRI detects changes in the fetus’ brain and spine during pregnancy compared to ultrasound.  While ultrasound is the most commonly used method of monitoring fetal development, its ability to detect changes in the brain is limited.  In this study, we are comparing ultrasound and MR images of fetuses to identify the situations in which fetal MRI will provide valuable clinical information not seen on ultrasound.  Studies have shown that, overall, fetal MRI is more helpful than ultrasound in evaluating the brain. We are interested in studying just how helpful fetal MRI is for different brain conditions.

Second, we wouild like to learn how various congenital (inherited) and acquired abnormalities detected on fetal MRI correlate with childhood development.  Currently, it is very difficult to counsel parents who have a fetus with a brain abnormality, because outcomes can vary widely.  By classifying abnormalities more thoroughly with fetal MRI, we will be able to give parents a more accurate picture of what they can expect for their child from a neurological and developmental standpoint. This information will help parents make decisions during pregnancy and prepare in advance for challenges their child and family may face.

Since developmental outcome is a crucial aspect of our study, it is very important that we keep in touch with your family as you make decisions about your pregnancy and, if your child is born, throughout his/her early years. 

If your fetus has a condition known as Isolated Mild Ventriculomegaly, we are no longer accepting new patients for this study and will not be offering a second fetal MRI for free. If you have already enrolled in our study on Isolated Mild Ventriculomegaly, then we will contact you to schedule the neurological and developmental assessments after your child has been born.