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Fetal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Fetal MRI)

What Is Fetal Magnetic Resonance Imaging?

Fetal magnetic resonance imaging (or fetal MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed pictures of an unborn baby. This painless test does not expose the baby to radiation.

Why Is a Fetal MRI Done?

Doctors may order a fetal MRI to get more detailed images of a developing baby if a possible problem is seen on an ultrasound. The test can help look for problems in the brain, spine, bowel, lungs, and other body parts.

How Should I Prepare for a Fetal MRI?

You may be asked to either not eat at all, or to not have foods or drinks with sugar or caffeine for a few hours before your test. This can help keep your baby calm so that the MRI machine can capture clear images. You do not need a full bladder before this test.

You cannot wear jewelry or any other items made of metal for the test, so it may be easiest to leave these at home. You may want to bring music that relaxes you to listen to during the test.

What Happens During a Fetal MRI?

A fetal MRI is usually done while you are lying down. If this is uncomfortable, the technician might be able to adjust your position a little to make you more comfortable, but still allow the machine to get the needed images.

The MRI machine is noisy, but a fetal MRI is not painful.

How Long Does a Fetal MRI Take?

It usually takes 30 to 45 minutes to get the pictures needed.

When Are the Results Ready?

The doctor will review the fetal MRI and give you the results within 1 to 2 days.

Are There Any Risks From a Fetal MRI?

There are no known risks to you or your developing baby from a fetal MRI.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: February 2018
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