, Volume 22, Issue 9, pp 2020-2026
Date: 02 May 2012

Magnetic resonance imaging of the active second stage of labour: Proof of principle

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To prove that magnetic resonance imaging of foetal anatomy during the active second stage of vaginal delivery is feasible.

Materials and methods

Initially, five pregnant volunteers around the 30th week of gestation were examined in an open MRI. Based on the findings, one vaginal delivery was acquired under real-time imaging. To monitor the birth status during image acquisition, an MR-compatible wireless cardiotocography (CTG) system was built. Single-shot sequence parameters were optimised to compensate motion artefacts during labour.


Safety requirements to monitor the birth process under real-time MR imaging were met. High-resolution MR images were acquired immediately before and after delivery. In one patient, TSE single-shot cinematic sequences of the active second stage of labour were obtained. All sequences were adapted to tolerate movement of the mother and infant, as well as residual noise from the CTG. Furthermore, the MR imaging during labour showed only minor image artefacts.


CTG-monitored acquisition of MRI series during the active second stage of delivery is feasible. Image quality should allow various further studies to improve models for birth simulation as well as potential investigation of obstructed labour and obstetric complications.

Key Points

The active second stage of obstetric delivery can be followed by MRI.

Wireless cardiotocography allows monitoring of the foetus during MRI.

It has potential applications in evaluation of late obstetric problems.