Four-dimensional fetal cardiac imaging in a cohort of fetuses with suspected congenital heart disease

Pediatric radiology(2022)

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Background Fetal cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) requires high spatial and temporal resolution and robustness to random fetal motion to capture the dynamics of the beating fetal heart. Slice-to-volume reconstruction techniques can produce high-resolution isotropic images while compensating for random fetal motion. Objective The objective of this study was to evaluate image quality for slice-to-volume reconstruction of four-dimensional balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) imaging of the fetal heart. Materials and methods A cohort of 13 women carrying fetuses with congenital heart disease were imaged with real-time bSSFP sequences. Real-time bSSFP sequences were post-processed using a slice-to-volume reconstruction algorithm to produce retrospectively gated 4-D sequences with isotropic spatial resolution. Two radiologists evaluated slice-to-volume reconstruction image quality on a scale from 0 to 4 using 11 categories based on a segmental approach to defining cardiac anatomy and pathology. A score of 0 corresponded to cardiac structures not visualized at all and four corresponded to high quality and distinct appearance of structures. Results In 11 out of 13 cases, the average radiologist score of image quality across all categories was 3.0 or greater. In the remaining two cases, slice-to-volume reconstruction was not possible due to insufficient image quality in the acquisition. Conclusion Slice-to-volume reconstruction has the potential to produce isotropic images with high spatial and temporal resolution that can display the anatomy of the fetal heart in arbitrary imaging planes retrospectively. More rapid, motion-robust acquisitions may be necessary to successfully reconstruct the fetal heart in all patients.
Congenital heart disease,Fetus,Four-dimensional imaging,Heart,Magnetic resonance imaging,Slice-to-volume reconstruction
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