Novel technology for functional MRI of the moving fetus

The overview of preprocessing for hyperoxia fMRI of the placenta and fetal brain.
Inadequate supply of oxygen to the fetus may compromise fetal health and well-being. Recently, the effects of maternal oxygen supply on fetal brain oxygenation have been explored using blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). A challenge with unsedated in vivo fetal fMRI is fetal motion, which seriously perturbs fMRI data quality and reliable data analysis.

I and my colleagues working at the Developing Brain Research Laboratory in Children's National Medical Center recently published a paper, titled "Robust preprocessing for stimulus-based functional MRI of the moving fetus" in the Journal of Medical Imaging. The article had been selected as a 'featured article' in the Journal of Medical Imaging from April to June, 2016. The paper presents a robust method for correcting motion artifact from fMRI data of the fetal brain and placenta acquired during maternal hyperoxia. The method was designed to provide the most optimal performance in the given stimulus paradigm (see Figure 1). Spurious data which remain not corrected due to high motion were automatically detected, and additionally corrected through statistical estimation. Our experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method was effective in mitigating the motion artifacts and beneficial for clinical applications in high-risk fetuses. This paper provides an important technical foundation for non-invasive quantification of fetal brain-placenta function.
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