Magnetic resonance imaging of the placenta identifies placental vascular abnormalities independently of Doppler ultrasound




To evaluate the relationship between placental vascular pathology detected by prenatal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and perinatal outcome.


This was a retrospective, hospital-based, cross-sectional study in which all fetal MRI examinations of singleton pregnancies with vascular placental pathology (i.e. infarction with/without hemorrhage, subchorionic thrombi/hemorrhages, intervillous thrombi/hemorrhages, or retroplacental hematoma) in the period 2002–2007 were included. The extent of the pathology was expressed as a percentage of the total placental volume. Abnormalities of umbilical artery Doppler ultrasound examinations within 7 days between MRI and ultrasound examination were noted. Death in utero or postnatally was the primary outcome. Gestational age at MRI and at birth and the occurrence of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) were noted. Logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the impact of gestational age at MRI, extent of the vascular lesion and presence of pathological Doppler ultrasound measurements on the prediction of mortality.


Fifty-nine structurally normal singleton pregnancies with placental vascular abnormalities were included in the analysis. Mortality rate was 36%; among the survivors, 87% were born before 37 + 0 gestational weeks and 50% suffered from IUGR. In 55% of the pregnancies pathological umbilical artery Doppler findings were identified, of which 27% were non-survivors. Mortality was predicted by earlier gestational age at fetal MRI for placental pathology (P < 0.05) and increasing extent of the vascular lesion (P < 0.05), but not by the presence of pathological Doppler ultrasound data. Accuracy of the prediction was 82%, sensitivity was 67% and specificity 89%.


MRI-detected vascular placental pathologies may help to identify pregnancies at risk for adverse outcome and fetal death independently of umbilical artery Doppler status. Copyright © 2011 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.