We are pleased to announce that fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a noninvasive imaging test that provides detailed information about the bodily structure of a fetus, is now available at our Tyson’s Corner Medical Center.
Fetal MRI, which provides clear, high-resolution images of the fetus, are most often used to evaluate abnormalities in a baby’s brain, spine, and body. This test can help confirm a diagnosis that is suspected from a standard fetal sonogram or add significant information in more complicated cases so that the patient can be counseled about her pregnancy. Our expert physicians may use the MRI to examine the fetal brain in greater detail for abnormalities such as enlarged ventricles, congenital brain conditions, or the body such as with lung or abdominal masses. If an abnormality is found, those results are conveyed same day to the maternal fetal medicine physicians (high risk obstetrics doctors) who can then counsel the patient on the management of the pregnancy and potential outcomes.
How does the test work?
MRI uses a magnetic field, rather than radiation, to obtain pictures for evaluation. The image quality of an MRI depends on the signal and field strength, and Kaiser Permanente is equipped to conduct the test using a state-of-the-art 3 Tesla (3T) machine, which has more signal strength than the standard 1.5T machine. 3T MRI can provide clear and detailed images that can in many cases be done faster than on a standard machine, decreasing the overall scan time, which is important since the fetus is constantly moving. 3T technology is also generally better at imaging smaller structures such as smaller joints or children.
When is a fetal MRI needed?
Fetal MRI is performed in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, and typically can be scheduled within a few days. This highly specialized examination has specific indications and can be ordered only by maternal fetal medicine physicians and must be performed after a targeted fetal ultrasound has been conducted in our radiology department. Our outstanding Pediatric Radiology team interprets these tests in conjunction with our Neuroradiologists.
More information can be found at the Society for Pediatric Radiology Fetal MRI site: https://www.pedrad.org/Specialties/Fetal-Imaging/Fetal-MRI-General-Information