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Fetal MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is another imaging method that complements ultrasound and can offer further information about the fetus. This test can provide much detail about the fetus, including the face, brain, lungs, abdomen and pelvis.

How does MRI work?

MRI uses magnets to align the water molecules in the body and creates images by detecting energy from the molecules as they go back to their normal position. The MRI scanner consists of a movable bed inside a large circular magnet. MRI is painless and does not  require sedation.

When is a fetal MRI needed?

Your doctor may recommend an MRI when an abnormality is seen on ultrasound or when genetic testing shows increased risk for an abnormality. A fetal MRI can be considered when it can provide information that is not obtainable by ultrasound and that will affect your care or the care of the fetus.

How early can a fetal MRI be performed?

A fetal MRI can be done in the second and third trimester. This exam is typically not done during the first trimester since the small size of the fetus limits the information that can be gained.

Is fetal MRI safe?

With MRI, there is no radiation to you or the fetus. No adverse effects on the fetus or mother from MRI have been shown, and this test is done at many centers around the country to evaluate the fetus.

How long does a fetal MRI take?

The test usually lasts about 30 minutes to an hour, often depending on how active the fetus is.

How can I prepare for a fetal MRI?

Being comfortable during the MRI exam will help us to obtain better images more quickly. Dressing in loose-fitting comfortable clothes is helpful. Avoiding coffee and other drinks with caffeine the morning of the exam is also a good idea, since these drinks can make the fetus more active and cause the exam to last longer.

What can I expect during the MRI?

You will need to remove all jewelry or anything containing metal before entering the MRI room due to the strong magnetic fields.. Either earplugs or a headset will be provided since the MRI scanner makes loud noises during the exam. Once inside the room, the technologist will help you lie on the bed, either on your back or on your left side. During the exam, you will have a buzzer that will allow you to talk to the technologist at any time. You are also welcome to bring a significant other, family member, or friend into the room for the exam.