Children's Hospital Colorado

Fetal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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A fetal MRI helps us get highly detailed images and more information about your baby before they’re born. The procedure helps us create a more accurate diagnosis and gives you and your family more peace of mind.

What is a fetal MRI?

A woman enters the fetal MRI machine

A fetal MRI scan is a non-invasive imaging procedure that uses magnet technology to produce high-resolution images of your fetus. We often conduct this procedure in coordination with a fetal ultrasound to gather additional valuable information and different perspectives. This information helps us create a more complete diagnosis and treatment plan specific to your baby and their condition. A fetal MRI is a pain-free procedure and poses no risks to your baby.

What conditions does a fetal MRI diagnose?

A fetal MRI procedure can help confirm a diagnosis or provide additional information for many fetal anomalies (birth defects). These include, but are not limited to:

What happens before a fetal MRI?

We will ask you if you have any metallic devices in your body, such as a pacemaker, that could cause issues with the MRI. We will also ask you to remove any jewelry or other metal items. In the hours before the MRI, we will likely ask you to avoid caffeinated or high-sugar beverages, as they can make your baby move more in your belly and make it harder to get accurate MRI images. Our MRI technologist will show you to a room where you can change into comfortable clothes, such as scrubs or a medical gown.

What should you expect during a fetal MRI?

We will have you lie on the MRI table and provide you with pillows, blankets and recommendations to help you remain comfortable during the procedure. The fetal MRI usually lasts about 60 minutes. You will lie in a tube-shaped MRI machine. A fetal MRI scan creates a repeating thumping sound, so you can often listen to music or watch a movie while we obtain the images. We also provide ear plugs if you choose not to listen to music or watch a movie.

What should you expect after a fetal MRI?

After we obtain all the necessary images, our MRI technologist will show you to a room where you can change back into your clothes. Typically, you will get your results the same day and a maternal fetal medicine doctor, along with any other doctors from related specialties, if necessary, will meet with you to discuss what they see in the images. They will spend as much time as you would like discussing your results and answering any questions you have.

Why choose Children’s Colorado for a fetal MRI?

We know that an accurate and complete diagnosis is the foundation to your care plan, so we work hard to ensure you have all the information possible. We have highly trained radiologists who specialize in diagnosing fetal anomalies. Specializing in this area gives our providers in the Colorado Fetal Care Center experience and expertise that few centers in the country have.

We understand that receiving a prenatal diagnosis can be stressful, so we take the time to explain your baby’s condition to you fully and honestly. We work as a team with our obstetricians, maternal fetal medicine doctors and specialists to create the best care plan for you and your family based on your diagnosis.