Early identification of the abnormal fetal brain vascularization and blood flow is very important, because the deficient perfusion of the fetal brain may be related to a poor prognosis of the central nervous system (CNS) development. To assess the fetal brain vascularization and the blood flow in normal gestation, we measured the fetal brain vascularization and the brain blood flow in normal fetuses using three-dimensional (3-D) power Doppler ultrasound (US) and the quantitative 3-D power Doppler histogram analysis. This study was undertaken by a prospective and cross-sectional design. In total, 155 normal singletons with gestational age (GA) between 21 and 40 weeks were included. The 3-D power Doppler US and the quantitative 3-D histogram analyses were used to assess the fetal brain vascular indexes, i.e., vascularization index (VI), flow index (FI) and vascularization-flow index (VFI), in each case. Our results revealed that all the fetal brain VI, FI and VFI increased significantly with GA (all p < 0.001). In addition, the fetal brain VI, FI and VFI were all significantly correlated with the common fetal growth indices, such as biparietal diameter, occipitofrontal diameter, head circumference, abdominal circumference, femur length and estimated fetal weight. Our study indicates that fetal brain vascularization and blood flow increase significantly with the advancement of GA as well as the fetal common growth indices during normal gestation. We believe our data may serve as a reference for further studies of the fetal brain blood flow in abnormal conditions.
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