Abnormal cerebral ventricular system is one of the most common clinical indications for fetal MRI, mainly to detect other associated abnormalities that can be occult on prenatal ultrasonography. Although using ultrasound can identify most anomalies, MRI is known to be superior in identifying CNS anomalies as it has higher contrast resolution for brain parenchymal assessment added to the fact of being less affected by fetal positioning, oligohydramnios, maternal obesity, and reverberation artifacts. Fetal brain ventriculomegaly is defined as atrial width of > 10 mm on sonography, measured in the axial plane, at the level of the frontal horns, cavum septi pellucidi, and glomus of the choroid plexus perpendicular to the long axis of the lateral ventricle. One of the most important factors determining the fetal neurological outcome is the presence and severity of additional CNS anomalies that are better clarified by MRI. The aim of this study is to establish the role of fetal MRI in detecting the association between abnormal cerebral ventricular system and other CNS anomalies, correlation with the severity of ventriculomegaly and ventricle asymmetry.
Thirty pregnancies with fetal brain abnormal ventricular system were included in this study, 5 cases with isolated corpus callosum (CC) agenesis (16.666%); 2 cases with cystic lesions [one interhemispheric and the other dorsal] (6.666%) both associated with CC agenesis; 1 case with alobar holoprosencephaly (3.333%) associated with CC agenesis; 2 cases with semi-lobar holoprosencephaly (6.666%) [associated with CC agenesis and one of them is also associated with lissencephaly]; 3 cases with Dandy–Walker Malformation (DWM) (10%) [2 isolated and 1 associated with CC agenesis]; 3 cases with Dandy–Walker Variants (DWV) (10%) [1 isolated and 2 associated with CC agenesis]; 2 cases with Joubert syndrome (6.666%); 1 case isolated lissencephaly (3.333%); 4 cases of obstructive ventriculomegaly (13.333%) (1 of which associated with CC agenesis); 1 case of Arnold Chiari malformation type II (3.333%) associated with CC agenesis; 2 cases with meningoceles (6.666%) (occipital and parieto-occipital); 1 case with Mega cisterna Magna (3.333%); 1 case with anencephaly (3.333%); 1 case with right hemimegalencephaly (3.333%) (associated with frontal meningocele and CC agenesis); and 1 case with grade IV germinal matrix hemorrhage (3.333%). The pregnancies resulted in 20 births (66.66%), 2 died directly after birth (6.66%), 5 terminations (16.66%), and 3 intrauterine fetal deaths (IUFD) (10%). We found that the frequency of associated CNS anomalies was strongly related to the width of the ventricle. The association between CNS findings and ventricle width was particularly evident in sever ventriculomegaly. The greater the width of the ventricular system, the more the risk of associated CNS anomalies. Only one case showed diffusion restriction and was diagnosed to be of hemorrhagic nature. The relation between symmetry and degree of ventriculomegaly was found to be statistically insignificant (P = 0.115). Assessment of different fetal brain congenital anomalies was not significantly affected by the using of DWI sequence as it is a functional modality rather than being a tool for assessment of anatomical gross abnormalities.
Fetal MRI is an important adjuvant to US in cases of ventriculomegaly particularly those associated with complex CNS anomalies. The association between CNS findings and ventricular dilatation was particularly evident in sever ventriculomegaly. The greater the width of the ventricular system, the more the risk of associated CNS anomalies. Fetal MRI may also be helpful in doubtful cases that could be misdiagnosed as ventriculomegaly including holoprosencephaly, hydranencephaly, porencephaly, and various supratentorial cystic lesions. DWI confirms the diagnosis of hemorrhage.