Research: Prenatal diagnosis of intestinal nonrotation using magnetic resonance imaging: Is it possible?

Pediatr Radiol

. 2021 Feb 20. doi: 10.1007/s00247-021-04969-1. Online ahead of print.

Prenatal diagnosis of intestinal nonrotation using magnetic resonance imaging: Is it possible?

Anna R Blask 1Kimberly E Fagen 2Eva I Rubio 3Andrea T Badillo 4Dorothy I Bulas 3Affiliations expand

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Background: Malrotation of the bowel refers to any variation in the rotation and fixation of the gastrointestinal tract during the first trimester and is most commonly detected postnatally. Nonrotation of the bowel and incomplete rotation of the bowel are subtypes of malrotation.

Objective: To determine if the nonrotation subtype of malrotation of the bowel can be detected on prenatal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Materials and methods: Cases from 2012 to 2018 with nonrotation of the bowel without obstruction confirmed by imaging, surgery and/or autopsy were compared to prenatal imaging. Prenatal imaging was retrospectively reviewed to determine if prenatal diagnosis of malrotation could be made. Exclusion criteria included diaphragmatic hernia, omphalocele and gastroschisis.

Results: Ten cases of nonrotation diagnosed postnatally by upper gastrointestinal series (upper GI)/small bowel follow-through (SBFT) or autopsy had prenatal MRI. Prenatal MR studies were performed for assessment of heterotaxy syndrome with congenital heart disease (6/10), congenital heart disease with additional anomalies (suspected VACTERL [vertebral, anorectal, cardiac, tracheoesophageal, renal, limb] and suspected lung agenesis, ventriculomegaly) (3/10) and skeletal dysplasia (1/10). Eight upper GI/SBFT cases demonstrated nonrotation of the bowel without obstruction with the small bowel completely on one side of the abdomen contralateral to the stomach and the colon ipsilateral to the stomach; four cases were confirmed by surgery. The small bowel in one upper GI/SBFT case was unilateral contralateral to the stomach with a meandering colon. One case had nonrotation diagnosed at autopsy. There were no cases of postnatal midgut volvulus. Retrospective review of the 10 cases had prenatal MRI performed between 23 and 37 weeks of gestation. The coronal plane was the most optimal plane to assess the position of the stomach, small bowel and colon in relationship to each other. The small bowel was best assessed on T2-weighted images while the colon was best assessed on T1-weighted images. A nonrotated position of the small bowel was present in all 10 fetal MRI cases mirroring postnatal findings, with the small bowel contralateral to the stomach in 9/10 cases and ipsilateral to the stomach (in the right abdomen) in 1/10 cases. The colon was visualized by prenatal MRI in 9/10 cases, with 1 case limited due to a lack of T1-weighted imaging. A nonrotated position of the colon contralateral to the small bowel was present in 7/9 cases. In 2/9 cases, the colon was wandering, positioned on both sides of the midline. Colonic position in all nine cases matched postnatal findings. No cases presented with prenatal bowel obstruction.

Conclusion: Detection of nonrotation of the bowel is possible on prenatal MRI.

Keywords: Bowel; Fetal imaging; Fetus; Magnetic resonance imaging; Malrotation; Nonrotation; Prenatal.

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