Differences in cortical development assessed by fetal MRI in late-onset intrauterine growth restriction

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The objective of the study was to evaluate cortical development parameters by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in late-onset intrauterine growth–restricted (IUGR) fetuses and normally grown fetuses.


A total of 52 IUGR and 50 control fetuses were imaged using a 3T MRI scanner at 37 weeks of gestational age. T2 half-Fourier acquisition single-shot turbo spin-echo anatomical acquisitions were obtained in 3 planes. Cortical sulcation (fissures depth corrected by biparietal diameter), brain volumetry, and asymmetry indices were assessed by means of manual delineation and compared between cases and controls.


Late-onset IUGR fetuses had significantly deeper measurements in the left insula (late-onset IUGR: 0.293 vs control: 0.267; P = .02) and right insula (0.379 vs 0.318; P < .01) and the left cingulate fissure (0.096 vs 0.087; P = .03) and significantly lower intracranial (441.25 cm3 vs 515.82 cm3; P < .01), brain (276.47 cm3 vs 312.07 cm3; P < .01), and left opercular volumes (2.52 cm3 vs 3.02 cm3; P < .01). IUGR fetuses showed significantly higher right insular asymmetry indices.


Late-onset IUGR fetuses had a different pattern of cortical development assessed by MRI, supporting the existence of in utero brain reorganization. Cortical development could be useful to define fetal brain imaging-phenotypes characteristic of IUGR.

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