Imaging Technique can Determine Reason for Early Labor in Pregnant Women

Imaging Technique can Determine Reason for Early labor in Pregnant Women

Advanced imaging techniques are used to map the brain for understanding reason of early labor and miscarriage in pregnant women. The research was published in the international obstetrics and gynecology journal.

Scientists have developed 3D images of the cervix, which lies at the base of the womb. Main function of the cervix is to retain a developing baby from descending into the birth canal before due date. Weaknesses of cervix results in around a quarter of miscarriages during the fourth to sixth month of pregnancy. Researchers at the University of Leeds announced on December 20, 2017, that they have developed a detailed image of cervix structure, which can monitor potential signs of pregnancy problems before conceiving pregnancy.

“Ultrasound monitoring is used to identify women at risk, where their cervix is unable to support the pregnancy. This research is attempting to answer that question,” said Mr Nigel Simpson, Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Using MRI techniques, 3D images with extreme high resolution of cervix were created, which was used to understand the detailed micro-structure of organ.

A fibrous structure running along the upper part of the cervix was observed in the images. The fibers were more pronounced where cervix joins the womb. The fibers are made of collagen and smooth muscle and form a ring around the upper aspect of the cervical canal. These fibers provide a strong supporting barrier during the pregnancy to keep fetus and amniotic sac in place and preventing microbial contamination of uterus. The images reveal that these support tissues are less prominent further down the cervix as it joins the birth canal. In some medical conditions, cervix fails to support the baby resulting to a miscarriage or premature birth.

According to Medical Imaging report published by Coherent Market Insights, medical images using MRI technique can reveal disease progression or severe complications occurring during pregnancy. The study was funded by Cerebra, the charity for children with brain conditions. The scientists used diffusion tensor MRI, which is a technology that can remotely sense different types of tissue based on their water content.

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