The brain is fascinating, powerful, and mysterious. Complex molecular symphonies play constantly to orchestrate unconscious functions as well as thoughts and emotions, in a word, consciousness. I can see how Ernst Haeckel would be seduced to believe that the long evolutionary road of the brain during phylogeny is recapitulated during embryonic and fetal life. Development is rapid, complicated, and is incompletely understood. Therefore, to look at the developing fetal brain and attempt to predict neurologic and cognitive function is an extraordinary challenge.
The first challenge is the delineation of the gross anatomy of the fetal brain. High-resolution ultrasound has made great strides to define the morphology and biometry of brain structures. However, some crucial information is beyond the object properties that can be discerned with ultrasound. Magnetic resonance imaging has become a powerful tool to complement sonography. These two imaging techniques have provided great insights and improved the diagnosis of central nervous system anomalies. The second major challenge is to forecast the outcome of these conditions, which is crucial for families. The authors have summarized what is known about the follow-up of the disorders discussed and have outlined the limitations of knowledge given that long term follow-up of all conditions and large numbers will be required to provide reliable counseling to patients.
The new edition of Ultrasonography of the Fetal Brain has brought together the pioneers and intellectual leaders of fetal neurosonography. They tell us what has been learned about fetal anatomy and pathology with ultrasound. The authors have simplified the labyrinth of brain anatomy and provide a practical approach for the clinician.
This is valuable because sonography is and will continue to be the mainstay of prenatal diagnosis for the near future. The authors have also welcomed and embraced magnetic resonance imaging and, when appropriate, the tools of molecular genetics.
The approach to the book is unique, as the authors have chosen to collaborate to edit and review each other's chapters. The product of such collaboration has led to chapters that have been largely rewritten from the previous editions, and many informative images have been added. Those of us who are familiar with the authors and their lectures can almost hear their voices in the written word. The knowledge, experience, and insights of the authors come through. The book is an exhaustive treatise, yet easy to read. It is not surprising that this book has become the standard reference in the field and has been translated into Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin.
To write a book in a rapidly evolving field is a demanding task. The authors have faced this challenge head on with passion and enthusiasm. Their work will improve the diagnosis of fetal central nervous system disorders and the practice of medicine.
Roberto Romero, MD, DMedSci
Chief, Perinatology Research Branch
Deputy Clinical Director for Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Division of Intramural Research, NICHD/NIH
Editor-in-Chief for Obstetrics
American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology