Cephalocele detection in utero: sonographic and clinical features

N. E. Budorick, D. H. Pretorius, J. P. McGahan, M. R. Grafe, H. E. James, J. Slivka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Sonographic and clinical features of 26 fetal cephaloceles were reviewed retrospectively. The most frequent reason for referral was elevated maternal serum α‐fetoprotein levels. The smallest lesion identified was 0.4 × 0.5 cm (frontal, at 20 weeks); the largest was 9.0 × 10.0 cm (frontal, at 27 weeks). Twenty‐four of 26 cephaloceles were detected on prenatal ultrasound examination; in 13 of these, more than 50% of the intracranial contents were exteriorized. Fifteen of 24 cephaloceles detected prenatally had a sulcal pattern (identified between 16 and 36 weeks' gestation); five were solid without a sulcal pattern (identified between 13 and 21 weeks' gestation), three were cystic, and one underwent a change in appearance from solid at 21 weeks to cystic at 26 weeks. Other cranial features were evaluated and included visible skull defect, seen in 23/24 (96%), ventriculomegaly, in 6/26 (23%); microcephaly, in 12/24 (50%); beaked tectal plate, in 6/16 (38%); and flattened basiocciput, in 9/24 (38%). Of the 26 cases, 14 had normal amniotic fluid volume, five had oligohydramnios and seven had polyhydramnios. Fetuses with oligohydramnios had the highest incidence of concurrent fetal abnormalities; four of five fetuses (80%) with oligohydramnios had additional structural abnormalities. In the overall population, a very high incidence of other abnormalities was found; 17/26 (65%) cases showed additional abnormalities, some of which were not detected by ultrasound. Five fetuses had Meckel‐Gruber syndrome and three had amniotic band syndrome. Only one of the 18 karyotypes obtained was abnormal (trisomy 18). Survival was very poor; only two of the eight who survived until birth are currently living.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • central nervous system
  • fetal abnormalities
  • fetal ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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