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MR better at detecting Zika fetal brain abnormalities than ultrasound alone

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | October 09, 2017
MRI Ultrasound

A third had a thin corpus callosum, an abnormally developed brain stem, temporal cysts, subependymal heterotopias and general cerebral atrophy. A fetal ultrasound detected significant ventriculomegaly and a fetal head circumference that decreased sharply from the 32nd to 36th gestational week, a hallmark of microcephaly.

Follow-up MR exams without sedation and ultrasound were performed on infants following their birth. Ultrasounds found cysts in the choroid plexus or germinal matrix of nine and showed lenticulostriate vasculopathy in one.

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Mulkey says the use of fetal MR will continue to grow, but is skeptical about the combined use of it and ultrasound becoming a standard resource for assessing brain damage in fetuses.

“Experience with clinical fetal MR is increasing across the country, but is not performed routinely at all centers for concerns of fetal brain abnormalities or in cases of positive Zika infection in pregnant women,” she said. “Fetal MR also requires special expertise. US will continue to be the standard method to evaluate the fetal brain for damage from Zika virus. However, in cases of fetal brain abnormalities I think that the use of fetal brain MR will increase.”

Further testing will be required to determine if Zika virus exposure in the womb or other factors are the cause of these cystic changes.

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