Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive procedure which provides a more detailed and accurate image than can be obtained with ultrasound. With a confirmed diagnosis, early identification of candidates for fetal or post-delivery neurosurgery can occur.
Brain and spine abnormalities detected on the screening ultrasound usually performed at 20 weeks of gestational age can be further clarified by magnetic resonance imaging of the fetal central nervous system. MRI provides a more detailed and accurate image than can be obtained with ultrasound. With a confirmed diagnosis, specialists can identify candidates for fetal or post-delivery neurosurgery.
MRI is performed on a 1.5T strength magnet and images are obtained using radiofrequency pulses (much like ultrasound) produced in a strong electromagnetic field. No known harmful effects have been documented in the fetus.
The procedure can take from 30 minutes to 60 minutes depending on how much the baby is moving. Sequences are repeated if there is too much motion, which could lengthen the study.
The MRI machine is a closed space and may cause claustrophobia. Patients are asked to alert their MRI technician if they need a break. Earplugs or earphones are provided since the study can be noisy.
Christopher M. Cunniff, MD
Chief, Division of Medical Genetics
Birth Defect Syndromes, Disorders of Sexual Development, Muscular Dystrophy, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Intellectual Disability
Jennifer Bassetti, MD Clinical Genetics, Genetic Testing, Chromosomal Disorders, Dysmorphology, Congenital Anomalies, Autism Spectrum Disorders. Developmental Delay, Intellectual Disability
Lilian L. Cohen, MD Genetic Testing, Genetic Counseling, Birth Defects, Heart Defects, Developmental Disorders, Growth Disorders, Failure to Thrive, Twin Pregnancy
Jessica G. Davis, MD Genetic Disorders, Downs Syndrome, Dysmorphology, Marfan Syndrome, Skeletal Dysplasia, Fanconi Anemia
Division of Medical Genetics
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Phone: (646) 962-2205
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