The goal of this study was to determine the importance magnetic resonance (MR) imaging holds as a complementary fetal imaging modality to ultrasonography in deciding postnatal neurosurgical management.
Between 1999 and 2003, 320 fetal MR imaging studies were performed at a single institution. Twenty-four fetuses were found to have central nervous system abnormalities that could potentially require a neurosurgical intervention. The diagnoses included spinal anomalies (scoliosis, myelomeningocele, and closed spinal dysraphism) and brain anomalies (ventriculomegaly with or without hemorrhage, intracranial cyst, craniosynostosis, and encephalocele).
Fourteen of the 24 fetuses underwent surgery based on findings of prenatal MR imaging. In seven cases the pregnancy was terminated, and in three cases conservative follow up continues.
In a variety of brain and spine disorders, prenatal MR imaging can delineate and characterize the abnormality, and thus assist in the diagnosis and in the planning of postnatal surgery and management. This modality provides important multiplanar images and may obviate the need for early postnatal computed tomography or MR imaging. Postnatal management can often be guided by prenatal MR imaging findings.