Non-Invasive Placental Perfusion Imaging in Pregnancies Complicated by Fetal Heart Disease Using Velocity-Selective Arterial Spin Labeled MRI

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Scientific Reports








© 2017 The Author(s). The placenta is a vital organ for fetal growth and development during pregnancy. Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in newborns. Despite the parallel development of the placenta and fetal heart early in pregnancy, very few studies suggested an association between placental dysfunction and fetal CHD. In this study, we report placental perfusion of healthy pregnancies and pregnancies complicated by fetal CHD measured using advanced fetal MRI techniques. We studied forty-eight pregnant women (31 healthy volunteers and 17 with fetal CHD) that underwent fetal MRI during their second or third trimester of pregnancy. Placental perfusion imaging was performed using velocity-selective arterial spin labeling (VSASL) and 3D image acquisition with whole-placenta coverage. In pregnancies with fetal CHD, global placental perfusion significantly decreased and regional variation of placental perfusion significantly increased with advancing gestational age; however, no such correlation was found in healthy pregnancies. Also, global placental perfusion was significantly higher in fetal CHD versus controls, in the lateral side-lying patient position versus supine, and in the posterior placental position versus anterior placental position. This study reports for the first time non-invasive whole-placenta perfusion imaging in utero. These data suggest that placental VSASL may serve as a potential biomarker of placental dysfunction in fetuses diagnosed with CHD.

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