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Keywords:

  • diffusion-weighted imaging;
  • fetus;
  • lung;
  • magnetic resonance imaging

Abstract

Objectives

The main goal was to develop a reproducible method for estimating the diffusion of water in human fetal lung tissue using diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI). A secondary objective was to determine the relationship of the apparent diffusion coefficients (ADCs) in the fetal lung to menstrual age and total lung volume.

Methods

Normal pregnant volunteers were scanned on a 1.5-Tesla (T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system. The MRI system was equipped with 40-mT/m gradients (slew rate 200 T/m/s, rise time 0.2 ms). A six-channel body array coil was used for signal reception. Single-shot DWI utilized TE/TR 125/3400 ms, slice thickness 4 mm, field of view 280 mm × 280 mm, interslice gap 0.8 mm and a matrix of 128 × 128. The voxel size was 2.5 mm × 2.5 mm × 4.0 mm. Two b-values (0 and 1000) were chosen along three orthogonal directions. ADC maps were created using assigned b-values. Simple linear regression was performed with Pearson correlation coefficient. Interexaminer and intraexaminer bias, and 95% limits of agreement (LOA) were determined using Bland–Altman plots.

Results

Forty-seven scans were performed at a mean ± SD of 29.2 ± 4.5 weeks. The median coefficient of variation for ADC was 5.6% (interquartile range, 4.0–8.1%). No differences in ADC values were found between right and left lungs. Normally distributed ADC measurements were not significantly correlated with either total lung volume (r2 = 0.0001, P = 0.94) or menstrual age (r2 = 0.003, P = 0.70). The mean ADC value was 1.75 (95% CI, 1.63–1.86). Mean ± SD intraexaminer bias was −0.15 ± 2.3 (95% LOA, −4.7 to + 4.4) and interexaminer bias was 2.2 ± 3.5 (95% LOA, −4.7 to + 9.1).

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that ADC measurements of the fetal lung are reproducible between blinded examiners and are independent of menstrual age, as well as lung volume. Copyright © 2009 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.