Fetal brain imaging: A comparison between magnetic resonance imaging and dedicated neurosonography

G. Malinger*, L. Ben-Sira, D. Lev, Z. Ben-Aroya, D. Kidron, T. Lerman-Sagie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To evaluate whether fetal brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) adds useful clinical information to that obtained by dedicated fetal neurosonography using a combined transabdominal and transvaginal approach in fetuses with suspected brain anomalies. Methods: In the 2-year period between January 2000 and January 2002, 42 fetuses underwent neurosonographic and MRI examinations of the brain. The referral indications were: asymmetric ventriculomegaly (13), ventriculomegaly (7), periventricular cysts (2), suspected midline findings (7), agenesis of the corpus callosum (3), infratentorial pathology (3), cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection (2) and miscellaneous indications (5). Results: Neurosonography and MRI produced similar diagnoses in 29 fetuses: normal examination (10), isolated asymmetric ventriculomegaly (11), isolated ventriculomegaly (3), periventricular cysts (2), agenesis of the corpus callosum (1), pericallosal lipoma (1) and cerebellar hemorrhage (1). The neurosonographic diagnoses were more accurate in seven patients: hemimegalencephaly, pericallosal lipoma, signs of CMV infection, brain anomalies associated with agenesis of the corpus callosum and three fetuses with a normal ultrasound scan in which MRI suggested a parenchymal abnormality. MRI provided a more accurate diagnosis in three patients: a third ventricular dilatation was ruled out, normal ventricles in a fetus with an ultrasonographic finding of asymmetric ventricles, and diagnosis of progression of asymmetric ventriculomegaly. In three patients the identified pathologies were differently interpreted, each examination provided another aspect of the anomaly or a definitive diagnosis was not possible. Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that dedicated neurosonography is equal to MRI in the diagnosis of fetal brain anomalies. In most of the cases MRI confirmed the ultrasonographic diagnosis; in a minority of cases each modality provided additional/different information. The major role of MRI was in reassurance of the parents regarding the presence or absence of brain anomalies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-340
Number of pages8
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Fetal brain
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • Ultrasound


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