Separating fetal and maternal placenta circulations using multiparametric MRI

Andrew Melbourne, Rosalind Aughwane, Magdalena Sokolska, David Owen, Giles Kendall, Dimitra Flouri, Alan Bainbridge, David Atkinson, Jan Deprest, Tom Vercauteren, Anna David, Sebastien Ourselin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)
182 Downloads (Pure)


PURPOSE: The placenta is a vital organ for the exchange of oxygen, nutrients, and waste products between fetus and mother. The placenta may suffer from several pathologies, which affect this fetal-maternal exchange, thus the flow properties of the placenta are of interest in determining the course of pregnancy. In this work, we propose a new multiparametric model for placental tissue signal in MRI.

METHODS: We describe a method that separates fetal and maternal flow characteristics of the placenta using a 3-compartment model comprising fast and slowly circulating fluid pools, and a tissue pool is fitted to overlapping multiecho T2 relaxometry and diffusion MRI with low b-values. We implemented the combined model and acquisition on a standard 1.5 Tesla clinical system with acquisition taking less than 20 minutes.

RESULTS: We apply this combined acquisition in 6 control singleton placentas. Mean myometrial T2 relaxation time was 123.63 (±6.71) ms. Mean T2 relaxation time of maternal blood was 202.17 (±92.98) ms. In the placenta, mean T2 relaxation time of the fetal blood component was 144.89 (±54.42) ms. Mean ratio of maternal to fetal blood volume was 1.16 (±0.6), and mean fetal blood saturation was 72.93 (±20.11)% across all 6 cases.

CONCLUSION: The novel acquisition in this work allows the measurement of histologically relevant physical parameters, such as the relative proportions of vascular spaces. In the placenta, this may help us to better understand the physiological properties of the tissue in disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-361
Number of pages12
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Early online date21 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • chorion
  • diffusion
  • flow-matching
  • relaxometry


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