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Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 36, Issue 11, pp 1133–1140 | Cite as

Microstructural development of human brain assessed in utero by diffusion tensor imaging

  • Tony Bui
  • Jean-Luc Daire
  • François Chalard
  • Isabelle Zaccaria
  • Corinne Alberti
  • Monique Elmaleh
  • Catherine Garel
  • Dominique Luton
  • Nathalie Blanc
  • Guy SebagEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

Background

Diffusion-weighted MR imaging (DWI) has been shown to be a great tool to assess white matter development in normal infants. Comparison of cerebral diffusion properties between preterm infants and fetuses of corresponding ages should assist in determining the impact of premature ex utero life on brain maturation.

Objective

To assess in utero maturation-dependent microstructural changes of fetal cerebral white matter using diffusion tensor MR imaging.

Materials and methods

An echoplanar sequence with diffusion gradient (b=700 s/mm2) applied in six non-colinear directions was performed between 31 and 37+3 weeks of gestation in 24 fetuses without cerebral abnormality on T1- and T2-weighted images. Apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and fractional anisotropy (FA) were measured in the white matter.

Results

Mean ADC values were 1.8 μm2/ms in the centrum semiovale, 1.2 μm2/ms in the splenium of the corpus callosum and 1.1 μm2/ms in the pyramidal tract. The paired Wilcoxon rank test showed significant differences in ADC between these three white matter regions. Mean FA values were 1.1%, 3.8% and 4.7%, respectively, in the centrum semiovale, corpus callosum and pyramidal tract. A significant age-related decrease in ADC and an increase in FA towards term were demonstrated in the pyramidal tract and corpus callosum.

Conclusion

Diffusion tensor imaging in utero can provide a quantitative assessment of the microstructural development of fetal white matter. Anisotropic parameters of the diffusion tensor should improve with technical advances.

Keywords

Brain MRI Diffusion Fetus 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tony Bui
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jean-Luc Daire
    • 1
    • 2
  • François Chalard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Isabelle Zaccaria
    • 3
  • Corinne Alberti
    • 3
  • Monique Elmaleh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Catherine Garel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dominique Luton
    • 4
  • Nathalie Blanc
    • 5
  • Guy Sebag
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Paediatric ImagingHôpital Robert Debré, AP-HPParisFrance
  2. 2.Denis Diderot Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Paris VIIParisFrance
  3. 3.Clinical Epidemiology UnitHôpital Robert Debré, AP-HPParisFrance
  4. 4.Maternity UnitHôpital Robert Debré, AP-HPParisFrance
  5. 5.Neurology ServiceHôpital Robert Debré, AP-HPParisFrance

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