Introduction: Visual assessment of the placenta in antenatal magnetic resonance imaging is important to confirm healthy appearances or to identify pathology complicating fetal anomaly or maternal disease. Methods: We assessed the placenta in a large cohort of 228 women with low and high risk pregnancies across gestation. All women gave written informed consent and were imaged using either a 3T Philips Achieva or 1.5T Philips Ingenia scanner. Images were acquired with a T2-weighted single shot turbo spin echo sequence of the whole uterus (thereby including placenta) for anatomical information. Results: A structured approach to visual assessment of the placenta on T2-weighted imaging has been provided including determination of key anatomical landmarks to aid orientation, placental shape, signal intensity, lobularity and granularity. Transient factors affecting imaging are shown including the effect of fetal movement, gross fetal motion and contractions. Placental appearances across gestation in low risk pregnancies are shown and compared to pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia and chronic hypertension. The utility of other magnetic resonance techniques (T2* mapping as an indirect marker for quantifying oxygenation) and histological assessment alongside visual assessment of placental T2-weighted imaging are demonstrated. Discussion: A systematic approach with qualitative descriptors for placental visual assessment using T2-weighted imaging allows confirmation of normal placental development and can detect placental abnormalities in pregnancy complications. T2-weighted imaging can be visually assessed alongside functional imaging (such as T2* maps) in order to further probe the visual characteristics seen.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- T2 weighted imaging