As fetal gestational age increases, other modalities such as ultrasound have demonstrated increased levels of heterogeneity in the normal placenta. In this study, we introduce and apply ROI-based texture analysis to a retrospective fetal MRI database to characterize the second-order statistics of placenta and to evaluate the relationship between heterogeneity and gestational age. Positive correlations were observed for several Haralick texture metrics derived from fetal-brain specific T2-weighted and gravid uterus T1-weighted and T2-weighted images, confirming a quantitative increase in placental heterogeneity with gestational age. Our study shows the importance of identifying baseline MR textural changes at certain gestational ages from which placental diseased states may be compared. Specifically, when evaluating for placental invasion or insufficiency, findings should be evaluated in the context of the normal placental aging process, which occurs throughout gestation.
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