The Cincinnati Fetal Care Center is one of the largest centers in the country offering prenatal repair of myelomeningoceles in unborn children with Chiari II malformation. Chiari II malformation is a rare abnormality involving the brain and spine. This innovative surgery, while demonstrating promise in improving the outcomes in children with Chiari II malformation, comes at the cost of risk to the mother having to undergo invasive surgery during her pregnancy. Fetal MRI has become a vital tool in the assessment of unborn children with Chiari II malformation and is key in selecting the best candidates for fetal surgery.
One of our many ongoing research projects here at Cincinnati Children’s through the Fetal Care Center involves looking at brain MRIs of Chiari II malformation in unborn babies (via fetal MR imaging). Now, with over 10 years of experience in fetal MRI, we have a database that allows us to compare MRIs of the brain in children before and after birth. This data is important in determining the appearance of brain abnormalities on fetal MRI as well as accuracy in diagnosis. This will provide valuable information for prenatal counseling and surgical planning. The more we know before a child is born, the better we are able to predict and hopefully improve the outcome, giving each child the best possible chance.
Contributed by Dr. Usha D. Nagaraj and edited by Tony Dandino (RT-MR).