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Fetal Imaging

Fetal MRI anomaly scan

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LHA also offers Fetal MRIs, used when a suspected anomaly is spotted with ultrasound. It may confirm or exclude ultrasonographic findings, and may diagnose additional anomalies especially in the brain, allowing a full picture prior to management. It is useful for looking at many parts of the body, and gives very accurate information about your baby. This examination is recommended after the first 3 months of pregnancy.

Preparation

Preparation is the key to both your comfort and results when taking an MRI. Here are some of the elements you should watch out for when taking an MRI.
  • You can either wear a gown provided by the clinic or your own clothing as long as it is loose fitting and has no metal fasteners. Think sweatpants and a loose t-shirt.
  • Guidelines about eating and drinking vary with the specific exam; patients may follow regular diet and medications as usual unless specified by the doctor.
  • Fetal MRI does not require injection of contrast.
  • Be sure to outline medical history to your radiologist; they will need to know of any serious health problems or recent surgeries.
  • If you have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or anxiety, physicians can prescribe a mild sedative prior to the scheduled examination.
  • Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home if possible, or removed prior to the MRI scan. Because they can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI unit, metal and electronic objects are not allowed in the exam room. These items include:
    • Jewelry, watches, credit cards and hearing aids
    • Pins, hairpins, metal zippers and similar metallic items
    • Removable dental work
    • Pens, pocket knives and eyeglasses
    • Body piercings
  • In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for the following:
    • Internal (implanted) defibrillator or pacemaker
    • Cochlear (ear) implant
    • Some types of clips used on brain aneurysms
    • Some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels
  • You should inform the technologist of electronic devices in your body, because they may interfere with the exam or potentially pose a risk. Some implanted devices require a short period of time after placement (usually six weeks) before being safe for MRI examinations. Examples include but are not limited to:
    • artificial heart valves
    • implanted drug infusion ports
    • implanted electronic device, including a cardiac pacemaker
    • artificial limbs or metallic joint prostheses
    • implanted nerve stimulators
    • metal pins, screws, plates, stents or surgical staples
  • In general, metal objects used in orthopedic surgery pose no risk during MRI. However, a recently placed artificial joint may require the use of another imaging procedure.
  • Patients who might have metal objects in certain parts of their bodies may also require an x-ray prior to an MRI. You should notify the technologist or radiologist of any shrapnel, bullets, or other pieces of metal which may be present in your body due to accidents. Foreign bodies near the eyes are particularly important.
  • Dyes used in tattoos may contain iron and could heat up during MRI, but this is rarely a problem.
  • Tooth fillings and braces usually are not affected by the magnetic field, but they may distort images of the facial area or brain, so the radiologist should be aware of them.

Procedure

Any procedure performed has a process and knowing exactly how this is going to take place is the key to your comfort:

  1. You will be positioned on the moveable examination table. Straps and bolsters may be used to help maintain the correct position during imaging.
  2. Devices that contain coils capable of sending and receiving radio waves may be placed around or adjacent to the area of the body being studied.
  3. A device is positioned around the area to be examined.
  4. You will be moved into the magnet of the MRI unit and the radiologist and technologist will leave the room while the MRI examination is performed.
  5. When the examination is completed, you may be asked to wait until the technologist or radiologist checks the images in case additional images are needed.
  6. MRI exams generally include multiple runs (sequences), some of which may last several minutes.
  7. The entire examination is usually completed within 45 minutes.