OBJECTIVE: Recently, a potentially useful diagnostic approach based on MR diffusion-tensor-imaging (DTI) was reported for the estimation of putative functional placenta tissue (PFPT), thus providing direct information about placental function. Yet, the relation between reduced PFPT and the phenomenon of brain-sparing remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the relation between brain-sparing and reduced PFPT volume, as found in fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).
METHODS: A total of 40 consecutive patients with a US-based diagnosis of placental IUGR were examined using fetal MRI. A control group of 78 patients who received fetal MRI, due to non-placental pathologies, was established. A somatic energy index was calculated as IE=1-(Vbrain/Vpfpt) from brain and PFPT volumes measured with DTI in both groups. IE, Vpfpt, and Vbrain were analyzed with respect to the gestational week.
RESULTS: Vbrain corrected for gestational weeks was no different between both groups, while Vpfpt was significantly reduced in IUGR patients. IE was significantly different between both groups and indicated a higher Vbrain at a comparable Vpfpt.
CONCLUSIONS: Fetuses with IUGR show preserved energetic resources necessary for brain growth. Because IE drops in IUGR more rapidly as pregnancy progresses, depending on Vpfpt, IE could prove useful for estimating fetal well-being.
- Fetal Growth Retardation/pathology
- Gestational Age
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
- Organ Size
- Placenta/diagnostic imaging
- Prenatal Diagnosis/methods
- Young Adult