Placental MRI: Effect of maternal position and uterine contractions on placental BOLD MRI measurements


Introduction: Before using blood-oxygen-level-dependent magnetic resonance imaging (BOLD MRI) during maternal hyperoxia as a method to detect individual placental dysfunction, it is necessary to understand spatiotemporal variations that represent normal placental function. We investigated the effect of maternal position and Braxton-Hicks contractions on estimates obtained from BOLD MRI of the placenta during maternal hyperoxia. Methods: For 24 uncomplicated singleton pregnancies (gestational age 27–36 weeks), two separate BOLD MRI datasets were acquired, one in the supine and one in the left lateral maternal position. The maternal oxygenation was adjusted as 5 min of room air (21% O2), followed by 5 min of 100% FiO2. After datasets were corrected for signal non-uniformities and motion, global and regional BOLD signal changes in R2* and voxel-wise Time-To-Plateau (TTP) in the placenta were measured. The overall placental and uterine volume changes were determined across time to detect contractions. **Results**: In mothers without contractions, increases in global placental R2* in the supine position were larger compared to the left lateral position with maternal hyperoxia. Maternal position did not alter global TTP but did result in regional changes in TTP. 57% of the subjects had Braxton-Hicks contractions and 58% of these had global placental R2* decreases during the contraction. **Conclusion**: Both maternal position and Braxton-Hicks contractions significantly affect global and regional changes in placental R2* and regional TTP. This suggests that both factors must be taken into account in analyses when comparing placental BOLD signals over time within and between individuals.