Prenatal diagnosis of esophageal atresia using sonography and magnetic resonance imaging

Jacob C. Langer, Hero Hussain, Azra Khan, Robert K. Minkes, Diana Gray, Marilyn Siegel, Greg Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Background: The diagnosis of esophageal atresia may be suspected on prenatal ultrasound scan in fetuses with a small or absent stomach or unexplained polyhydramnios. However, these findings are thought to have a low positive predictive value and clinical decisions affecting timing or site of delivery may be made erroneously. The authors evaluated the accuracy of fetal sonography followed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the diagnosis of this lesion. Methods: Fetuses considered to be at risk for esophageal atresia based on detailed obstetric sonography underwent fetal MRI using a single-shot rapid-acquisition technique, and the T2-weighted images were evaluated prospectively. Scans were considered to be positive if the proximal esophagus was dilated, and the distal esophagus was not seen and negative if the esophagus was visualized throughout its length. Results: Ten fetuses underwent MRI scanning. All had a small or absent stomach bubble with unexplained polyhydramnios. Four scans were considered to be negative for esophageal atresia; all 4 were found to have a normal esophagus after delivery. Six scans were considered to be positive; 5 had esophageal atresia (2 with tracheoesophageal fistula and 3 without), and one had a neurologic syndrome with a normal esophagus. Conclusions: Magnetic resonance imaging appears to be accurate for establishing or ruling out a prenatal diagnosis of esophageal atresia, and should be considered in fetuses who are at high risk based on ultrasound findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-807
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Polyhydramnios
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Prenatal ultrasound scan


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