Phase-contrast cine MRI (PC-MRI) is the gold-standard noninvasive technique for measuring vessel blood flow and has previously been applied in the human fetal circulation. We aimed to assess the feasibility of using PC-MRI to define the distribution of the fetal circulation in sheep. Fetuses were catheterized at 119-120 days of gestation (term, 150 days) and underwent MRI at ∼123 days of gestation under isoflurane anesthesia, ventilated at a formula presented of 1.0. PC-MRI was performed using a fetal arterial blood pressure catheter signal for cardiac triggering. Blood flows were measured in the major fetal vessels, including the main pulmonary artery, ascending and descending aorta, superior vena cava, ductus arteriosus, left and right pulmonary arteries, umbilical vein, ductus venosus, and common carotid artery and were indexed to estimated fetal weight. The combined ventricular output, pulmonary blood flow, and flow across the foramen ovale were calculated from vessel flows. Intraobserver and interobserver agreement and reproducibility was assessed. Blood flow measurements were successfully obtained in 61 out of 74 vessels (82.4%) interrogated in 9 fetuses. There was good intraobserver [R = 0.998, P < 0.0001; intraclass correlation (ICC) = 0.997] and interobserver agreement (R = 0.996, P < 0.0001; ICC = 0.996). Repeated MRI measurements showed good reproducibility (R = 0.989, P = 0.0002; ICC = 0.990). We conclude that PC-MRI using fetal catheters for gating triggers is feasible in the major vessels of late gestation fetal sheep. This approach may provide a useful new tool for assessing the circulatory characteristics of fetal sheep models of human disease, including fetal growth restriction and congenital heart disease.
|Journal||American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2019|
- fetal blood flow
- fetal circulation
- fetal hypoxia
- phase-contrast cine MRI