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Discriminative imaging of maternal and fetal blood flow within the placenta using ultrafast ultrasound

Bruno-Felix Osmanski 1, 2, * Edouard Lecarpentier 3, 4, 5, 6 Gabriel Montaldo 1, 2 Vassilis Tsatsaris 4, 5, 6 Pascale Chavatte-Palmer 7, 5 Mickael Tanter 1, 2
* Corresponding author
2 Physique des ondes pour la médecine
ESPCI Paris - Ecole Superieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris, INSERM - Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale : U979, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique : UMR7587
Abstract : Being able to map accurately placental blood flow in clinics could have major implications in the diagnosis and follow-up of pregnancy complications such as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Moreover, the impact of such an imaging modality for a better diagnosis of placental dysfunction would require to solve the unsolved problem of discriminating the strongly intricated maternal and fetal vascular networks. However, no current imaging modality allows both to achieve sufficient sensitivity and selectivity to tell these entangled flows apart. Although ultrasound imaging would be the clinical modality of choice for such a problem, conventional Doppler echography both lacks of sensibility to detect and map the placenta microvascularization and a concept to discriminate both entangled flows. In this work, we propose to use an ultrafast Doppler imaging approach both to map with an enhanced sensitivity the small vessels of the placenta (~100 μm) and to assess the variation of the Doppler frequency simultaneously in all pixels of the image within a cardiac cycle. This approach is evaluated in vivo in the placenta of pregnant rabbits: By studying the local flow pulsatility pixel per pixel, it becomes possible to separate maternal and fetal blood in 2D from their pulsatile behavior. Significance Statement: The in vivo ability to image and discriminate maternal and fetal blood flow within the placenta is an unsolved problem which could improve the diagnosis of pregnancy complications such as intrauterine growth restriction or preeclampsia. To date, no imaging modality has both sufficient sensitivity and selectivity to discriminate these intimately entangled flows. We demonstrate that Ultrafast Doppler ultrasound method with a frame rate 100x faster than conventional imaging solves this issue. It permits the mapping of small vessels of the placenta (~100 μm) in 2D with an enhanced sensitivity. By assessing pixel-per-pixel pulsatility within single cardiac cycles, it achieves maternal and fetal blood flow discrimination.
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Bruno-Felix Osmanski, Edouard Lecarpentier, Gabriel Montaldo, Vassilis Tsatsaris, Pascale Chavatte-Palmer, et al.. Discriminative imaging of maternal and fetal blood flow within the placenta using ultrafast ultrasound. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2015, 5, pp.13394. ⟨10.1038/srep13394⟩. ⟨hal-01271672⟩

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