MRI in fetal necropsy

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The fetal autopsy involves a series of investigations of the corpse, most of which are noninvasive and acceptable to the majority of parents and their physicians. The value of the perinatal autopsy is manyfold and well established, and the results can provide a basis for parental and family counseling, inform future obstetric management, and provide audit for prenatal care. Many techniques originally developed for diagnosis, such as histology, biochemical tests, photography, x-rays, and cytogenetic karyotyping, have become standard tools in perinatal autopsies. However, there has been an inexorable decline in the autopsy consent rate over the last 30 years due to social and cultural factors, and perhaps ignorance of the benefits to be derived from the examination. Growing evidence suggests that postmortem fetal MRI can assist the pathologist at autopsy, and in many cases can obviate the need for dissection or at least minimize and focus it. For the majority of cases in which no consent for surgical autopsy is given, MRI together with other noninvasive postmortem tests can provide a great deal of the information that was previously available only from autopsy.

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