Fetal MRI

Also known as: fetal magnetic resonance imaging, ultrafast fetal MRI.

What is fetal MRI?

Fetal ultrasound remains the primary means of identifying and evaluating fetal disorders during pregnancy. When sonographic results are inconclusive, fetal MRI is increasingly used to enhance evaluation.

A magnetic resonance image (MRI) of a fetus provides detailed images of the unborn baby without causing any harm to either the expectant mother or her baby. The combination of a computer, radio waves and a magnet produces very clear images of fetal body structures, such as the brain, spine, facial structure,  heart, abdomen and limbs. MRI offers significantly more detailed images than fetal ultrasound exams, specifically in the central nervous system, and can provide essential information to support management of affected pregnancies and preparations for birth.

When is a Fetal MRI Needed?

Fetal MRI supports evaluation of:

  • Potential neurological abnormalities, including malformations of the brain and spine.
  • Suspicious thoracic masses (MRI offers advantage of differentiating bowel, liver and lung masses).
  • Suspected airway obstruction caused by neck or thoracic masses.

What Happens During a Fetal MRI?

The MRI scanner looks like a large box with an open tunnel. You will lie down and then be positioned within the MRI tunnel either on your back or your side. Our staff will help make you as comfortable as possible during the procedure. The entire study will be monitored by the radiologist and technologist.

Preparation Guidelines for Fetal MRI

Some expectant mothers may not be good candidates for a fetal MRI. Anyone with a heart pacemaker or any kind of metallic implant, should not have the fetal MRI unless her physician and radiologist give approval for the exam. 

  • You will not be able to wear anything metal during the exam, so any jewelry items containing metal, including those associated with body piercings, should be left at home.
  • Please do not eat within four hours of the procedure. Drinking water or milk is okay, but no caffeinated or sugary beverages should be consumed within four hours of the scheduled procedure.  
  • A surface coil may be placed on top of your abdomen to help support the imaging process. These should not pose any discomfort.  
  • The duration of the exam is about 90 minutes.

The Region's Most Experienced Team

Nicklaus Children's fetal MRI service is one of South Florida region's most trusted. The team has extensive experience in capturing and interpreting images to support assessment and diagnosis of fetal abnormalities. When abnormalities are identified, the MRI team connects expectant parents with Nicklaus Children's Hospital subspecialists who can advise them on care plans for their baby to be. 


This page was last updated on: April 06, 2021 10:18 AM

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