Subarachnoid Space Measurements in Apparently Healthy Fetuses Using MR Imaging

A. Wandel*, T. Weissbach, E. Katorza, T. Ziv-Baran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The fetal subarachnoid space size serves as an indicator of normal brain development. The subarachnoid space is commonly measured by an ultrasound examination. Introduction of MR imaging for fetal brain evaluation enables standardization of MR imaging–driven subarachnoid space parameters for a more accurate evaluation. This study aimed to determine the normal range of MR imaging–derived subarachnoid space size in fetuses according to gestational age. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study based on a retrospective assessment of randomly selected brain MR images of apparently healthy fetuses performed between 2012 and 2020 at a large tertiary medical center was performed. Demographic data were collected from the mothers’ medical records. Subarachnoid space size was measured at 10 reference points using the axial and coronal planes. Only MR imaging scans obtained between weeks 28 and 37 of pregnancy were included. Scans with low-quality images, multiple pregnancy, and cases with intracranial pathologic findings were excluded. RESULTS: Overall, 214 apparently healthy fetuses were included (mean maternal age, 31.2 [SD, 5.4] years). Good interobserver and intraobserver agreement was observed (intraclass correlation coefficient . 0.75 for all except 1 parameter). For each gestational week, the 3rd, 15th, 50th, 85th, and 97th percentiles of each subarachnoid space measurement were described. CONCLUSIONS: MR imaging–derived subarachnoid space values at a specific gestational age provide reproducible measurements, probably due to the high resolution of MR imaging and adherence to the true radiologic planes. Normal values for brain MR imaging could provide valuable reference information for assessing brain development, thus being an important tool in the decision-making process of both clinicians and parents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-721
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023


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