Examination of the fetal brain by transabdominal three-dimensional ultrasound: potential for routine neurosonographic studies

Correa F F, Lara C, Bellver J, Remohi J, Pellicer A, Serra V,
Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. May. 2006 doi: 10.1002/uog.2750


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the role of transabdominal three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound in the assessment of the fetal brain and its potential for routine neurosonographic studies. METHODS: We studied prospectively 202 consecutive fetuses between 16 and 24 weeks' gestation. A 3D ultrasound volume of the fetal head was acquired transabdominally. The entire brain anatomy was later analyzed using the multiplanar images by a sonologist who was expert in neonatal cranial sonography. The quality of the conventional planes obtained (coronal, sagittal and axial, at different levels) and the ability of the 3D multiplanar neuroscan to visualize properly the major anatomical structures of the brain were evaluated. RESULTS: Acceptable cerebral multiplanar images were obtained in 92% of the cases. The corpus callosum could be seen in 84% of the patients, the fourth ventricle in 78%, the lateral sulcus (Sylvian fissure) in 86%, the cingulate sulcus in 75%, the cerebellar hemispheres in 98%, the cerebellar vermis in 92%, the medulla oblongata in 97% and the cavum vergae in 9% of them. The thalami and the cerebellopontine cistern (cisterna magna) were identified in all cases. At or beyond 20 weeks, superior visualization (in > 90% of cases) was achieved of the cerebral fissures, the corpus callosum (97%), the supracerebellar cisterns (92%) and the third ventricle (93%). Some cerebral fissures were seen initially at 16-17 weeks. CONCLUSION: Multiplanar images obtained by transabdominal 3D ultrasound provide a simple and effective approach for detailed evaluation of the fetal brain anatomy. This technique has the potential to be used in the routine fetal anomaly scan.