MRI is increasingly employed to assess intrauterine fetal anomalies. Central nervous system (CNS) anomalies are common structural conditions that warrant evaluation with fetal MRI and subsequent prenatal consultation with a pediatric neurosurgeon. As the use of fetal MRI increases, there is greater impetus to understand the most common CNS structural anomalies diagnosed in utero, as well as their natural histories.
The authors performed a single-center retrospective review of fetal MRI evaluations performed between January 2012 and December 2020. Children who underwent both prenatal and postnatal neurosurgical evaluations of CNS anomalies were included. Specific CNS anomalies on fetal MRI, associated extra-CNS findings, and suspicion for genetic abnormality or syndromes were noted. Postnatal clinical status and interventions were assessed.
Between January 2012 and December 2020, a total of 469 fetal MRI evaluations were performed; of these, 114 maternal-fetal pairs had CNS anomalies that warranted prenatal consultation and postnatal pediatric neurosurgical follow-up. This cohort included 67 male infants (59%), with a mean ± SD follow-up of 29.8 ± 25.0 months after birth. Fetal MRI was performed at 27.3 ± 5.8 weeks of gestational age. The most frequently reported CNS abnormalities were ventriculomegaly (57%), agenesis or thinning of the corpus callosum (33%), Dandy-Walker complex (DWC) (21%), neuronal migration disorders (18%), and abnormalities of the septum pellucidum (17%). Twenty-one children (18%) required neurosurgical intervention at a mean age of 2.4 ± 3.7 months. The most common surgical conditions included myelomeningocele, moderate to severe ventriculomegaly, encephalocele, and arachnoid cyst. Corpus callosum agenesis or thinning was associated with developmental delay (p = 0.02) and systemic anomalies (p = 0.05). The majority of prenatal patients referred for DWC had Dandy-Walker variants that did not require surgical intervention.
The most common conditions for prenatal neurosurgical assessment were ventriculomegaly, corpus callosum anomaly, and DWC, whereas the most common surgical conditions were myelomeningocele, hydrocephalus, and arachnoid cyst. Only 18% of prenatal neurosurgical consultations resulted in surgical intervention during infancy. The majority of referrals for prenatal mild ventriculomegaly and DWC were not associated with developmental or surgical sequelae. Patients with corpus callosum abnormalities should be concurrently referred to a neurologist for developmental assessments.