Public Release: 

MRS shows promise as noninvasive means to determine fetal lung maturity

American College of Radiology

MR spectroscopy (MRS) of choline levels shows promise as a marker of fetal lung maturity, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California-San Francisco.

The researchers performed high resolution MRS on 15 amniotic fluid samples for evaluation of fetal lung maturity between 34 and 40 weeks gestation and were analyzed using trimethysilylpropionic acid (TSP) as a reference standard.

"Working in the radiology department, we feel that MRS has the potential to provide valuable information via a non-invasive method," said May Yong, MD, lead author of the study. "Currently the standard for determining fetal lung maturity involves obtaining amniotic fluid and evaluating the fluid for the surfactant to albumin (SA) ratio. The amniotic fluid is obtained via amniocentesis, an invasive procedure with risks including infection and preterm labor," said Dr. Yong.

Researchers found that choline values greater than 49 mg/g indicate lung maturity on MRS.

"We are pleased to see a trend between increasing SA ratio with increasing choline concentration in amniotic fluid. We are doing work with more samples to determine if this trend reaches statistical significance," said Dr. Yong.

"If this work is successful, we could potentially use MRS as a non-invasive test for fetal lung maturity and spare pregnant women and their fetuses the risks of amniocentesis," she said.

The full results of the study will be presented on Thursday, May 10, 2007 during the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.

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