INTRODUCTION: We aimed to explore the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in vivo as a tool to elucidate the placental phenotype in women with chronic hypertension.

METHODS: In case-control study, women with chronic hypertension and those with uncomplicated pregnancies were imaged using either a 3T Achieva or 1.5T Ingenia scanner. T2-weighted images, diffusion weighted and T1/T2* relaxometry data was acquired. Placental T2*, T1 and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps were calculated.

RESULTS: 129 women (43 with chronic hypertension and 86 uncomplicated pregnancies) were imaged at a median of 27.7 weeks' gestation (interquartile range (IQR) 23.9-32.1) and 28.9 (IQR 26.1-32.9) respectively. Visual analysis of T2-weighted imaging demonstrated placentae to be either appropriate for gestation or to have advanced lobulation in women with chronic hypertension, resulting in a greater range of placental mean T2* values for a given gestation, compared to gestation-matched controls. Both skew and kurtosis (derived from histograms of T2* values across the whole placenta) increased with advancing gestational age at imaging in healthy pregnancies; women with chronic hypertension had values overlapping those in the control group range. Upon visual assessment, the mean ADC declined in the third trimester, with a corresponding decline in placental mean T2* values and showed an overlap of values between women with chronic hypertension and the control group.

DISCUSSION: A combined placental MR examination including T2 weighted imaging, T2*, T1 mapping and diffusion imaging demonstrates varying placental phenotypes in a cohort of women with chronic hypertension, showing overlap with the control group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
Early online date13 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021


  • Chronic Hypertension
  • Placenta
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)


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