Three-dimensional ultrasonographic depiction of fetal brain blood vessels

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Abstract

Objective

The objective of this study is to evaluate the fetal cerebral vasculature by three-dimensional (3D) ultrasonography and Doppler technologies in normal fetuses and to describe a systematic method for analysis of volume data sets.

Methods

3D volumes of the fetal brain were acquired prospectively in 25 patients between 12.3 and 36.3 weeks' gestation. Volumes were acquired with high-definition Doppler flow. The feasibility of identifying the fetal cerebral blood vessels and venous sinuses was analyzed.

Results

A step-by-step systematic approach to identify the cerebral vasculature from ultrasonographic volume data sets was developed. The volumes were rotated into a standard anatomic orientation in the multiplanar display, and then, by systematic navigation, the vessels were demonstrated. Arteries of the circle of Willis, basilar artery, pericallosal artery, and internal carotid arteries were demonstrated in more than half of the fetuses. Tiny vessels such as those that supply the cerebellum and those that branch from the pericallosal artery were demonstrated in less than 50% of the volumes.

Conclusions

The essential fetal cerebral vessels can be visualized by 3D volume analysis. Systematic analysis enables identification of the fetal brain arteries, veins, and sinuses and provides knowledge about anatomical variations and the diversity of human anatomy. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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