Latest MRI Technique Able to Detect Pregnancy Complications Within 10 Weeks


According to the latest team of researchers, a new MRI imaging technique has been developed which can monitor the placenta health even during the early stages of the pregnancy when the fetus is under development. With the help of this technique, doctors are now able to predict the complications during the earliest phases of pregnancy. The study authors have also commented that the implications of this technique can be of great help for determining the infants’ health.

Risks During Pregnancies

If a placenta is not being developed in the right manner. Then according to gynecologists at Family Health Hospital in Islamabad, pregnancy may have the following risks or complications:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Stillbirth
  • Preterm labour
  • Abnormal fetal growth

The Need for this Technique

The existing techniques are not able to properly or profoundly assess the placental development or its formation and thus can lead to different issues during or after pregnancy. Thus there stood a need for something that was able to monitor and later asses the complications of pregnancy in better prospects. 

According to Victoria, who is a professor at the National Primate Research Center and is also the study author of this research, “This new methodology provides an additional tool that healthcare providers can use to assess placental vascular function. The ability to detect a placenta-related problem early in pregnancy can create a more targeted approach to clinical management, allowing clinicians to provide better treatment options to mothers and developing babies,”

The New MRI Method

The research group consisted of 316 monitored pregnancies who were between 11 to 38 weeks of gestation. Out of these pregnancies, 37.4% were high-risk and the others were of low risk. Some of the risks of these pregnancies are as follows:

  • Preterm birth
  • Fetal anomalies
  • Fetal death
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth weight

The expecting mothers underwent MRI scans at least 3 times to analyse the situation in a better manner. This was to assess the oxygen availability and placental blood flow in a precise manner. The researchers also call the experts from Oregon Health and Science University. 

They were able to conclude that the T2 levels were low in the high-risk pregnancy group as compared to the low pregnancy group. 

But there was a theory that this difference can be because of the altitude difference between these two universities from one. The new technique can be applied to all the new apparatus. Thus the prenatal care setting can be highlighted in the majority of healthcare centres. 

More Prospects of Future Research 

As there was a limited group of study with potentially confined individuals. Furthermore, they were also unable to include different race groups and ethnicities which can also account for some changes. 

Dr Angela Marti who is the medical doctor of labour and delivery at the University of Kansas Medical Center said that

 “Not very much right now. This is an interesting article describing a potential new tool that could be useful for predicting adverse outcomes in the future. However, at this time, it is unclear if T2* BOLD-MRI is a better screening tool than using risk factors, medical history, and ultrasound to screen for adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

Also, Dr Katherine S Kohari who is an expert OB/GYN and an assistant professor of gyneoclogy and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine, although she was not included in the study, commented that 

“The results of this study are certainly exciting as they indicate that using T2* MRI may allow identification of patients at increased risk for poor pregnancy outcome.

“However, MRI is an expensive modality and therefore is not likely to be used in routine pregnancy management at this time. [This comes] especially as we do not have an intervention to offer these patients identified at higher risk for complication aside from increased ultrasound surveillance, which many of these patients likely are already receiving.”

Although this technique is not for placental repair, still it is better to understand the complications so that preventive measures can be adapted. Dr. Sherry Rose said that 

“The placenta is the heart of pregnancy and the source of many dangerous complications associated with pregnancy. Abnormalities associated with a poor functioning placenta are often unpredictable and unstoppable. It’s not likely that placenta repair can actually happen, but knowing ahead of time and delaying potential complications can be lifesaving.”

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