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Keywords:

  • cerebellar vermis;
  • corpus callosum;
  • fetal brain;
  • prenatal diagnosis;
  • three-dimensional ultrasound;
  • transfrontal;
  • ultrasound;
  • volume contrast imaging

Abstract

Objective To compare sonographic visualization of midline cerebral structures obtained by two-dimensional (2D) imaging and three-dimensional (3D) multiplanar and volume contrast imaging in the coronal plane (VCI-C), with transfrontal 3D acquisition.

Methods Sixty consecutive healthy fetuses in vertex presentation at a mean gestational age of 24 (range, 20–33) weeks underwent 2D and 3D ultrasound examination. Sagittal cerebral planes were reconstructed using 3D acquisition from axial planes by multiplanar analysis and by VCI-C. The reconstructed midline images of both these techniques were compared with the midline structures visualized directly in the A-plane by transfrontal 3D acquisition using a sweep angle of 30°. Measurement of the corpus callosum and cerebellar vermis and visualization of the fourth ventricle and the main vermian fissures were compared. The sharpness of the images was also assessed qualitatively. Mid-sagittal tomographic ultrasound imaging (TUI) was also performed. 3D planes were compared with 2D transfontanelle median planes obtained by transabdominal or, when required, transvaginal sonography.

ResultsThe midline plane could be obtained in 88% of multiplanar, 82% of VCI-C and 87% of transfrontal analyses. Measurements of the corpus callosum and cerebellar vermis obtained by 3D median planes were highly correlated. The clearest and sharpest definition of midline structures was obtained with transfrontal acquisition. Primary and secondary fissures of the cerebellar vermis could be detected in 13–26% of multiplanar, 18–35% of VCI-C and 52–79% of transfrontal analyses. 2D visualization was superior or equal to the 3D transfrontal approach in all the parameters compared.

Conclusion 3D planes obtained from axial acquisitions are simpler and easier to display than are transfrontal ones. However, artifacts and acoustic shadowing are frequent in 3D axial acquisition and spatial resolution is better in the direct visualization transfrontal technique. If the standard examination includes a view of the fetal facial profile, a quick 3D acquisition through the frontal sutures provides direct visualization for assessment of the midline structures. We believe that this volumetric methodology could represent a step towards incorporating a comprehensive fetal neuroscan into routine targeted organ evaluation. Copyright © 2007 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.