MRI Helps Create 3D Model of Fetus, May Detect Abnormalities

November 23, 2016

Using data from MRI to create 3D models of a fetus may help detect abnormalities before birth, from RSNA 2016.

Data from MRI can be used to create a 3D model of a fetus, and this could become a useful tool for the assessment of fetal airway patency and for other possible applications, according to a study presented at RSNA 2016.

Researchers from Brazil studied the use of MRI and how its high-resolution images could allow visualization of internal tissues in a 3D format. "The 3-D fetal models combined with virtual reality immersive technologies may improve our understanding of fetal anatomical characteristics and can be used for educational purposes and as a method for parents to visualize their unborn baby," co-author Heron Werner Jr., MD, PhD, from the Clínica de Diagnóstico por Imagem, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said in a release.

The researchers created virtual reality 3D models based on fetal MRI results, and sequentially-mounted MRI slices were used to begin construction of the model. A segmentation process followed in which the physician selected the body parts to be reconstructed in 3D. Once an accurate 3D model was created, the virtual reality device was programmed to incorporate the model.

The results showed that the virtual reality fetal 3D models based on MRI were successfully generated, and they were remarkably similar to the postnatal appearances of the newborn baby, especially in cases with pathology, increasing the possibilities of digital tools to help fetal medicine researches.

The researchers concluded that this technology would allow for coordination of care between multidisciplinary teams when malformations or other concerns are noted in the fetus. "The physicians can have access to an immersive experience on the clinical case that they are working on, having the whole internal structure of the fetus in 3-D in order to better visualize and share the morphological information," Werner said. "We believe that these images will help facilitate a multidisciplinary discussion about some pathologies in addition to bringing a new experience for parents when following the development of their unborn child."

According to the release, the researchers have used the technique on patients at a clinic in Rio de Janeiro, including cases in which the fetus had evidence of an abnormality that required postnatal surgery. They hope to use the technology more broadly over the next year.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"54354","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","id":"media_crop_8320010093206","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6803","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","title":"3D virtual model ultrasound view of fetus at 12 weeks. Image provided courtesy of RSNA. ©RSNA 2016.","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]