What is ventriculomegaly?
The normal brain is surrounded by a clear fluid called the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). This fluid cushions the brain in the skull and exists in the spinal canal as well as the spaces in the brain called the ventricles. Ventriculomegaly, also known as hydrocephalus, is a condition in which the CSF-filled structures within the brain become larger than normal. As a result, the large ventricles can inhibit the proper development of the brain. Sometimes ventriculomegaly is associated with developmental problems of the fetal spine called neural tube defects or spina bifida. Infants with ventriculomegaly may also have chromosome abnormalities or genetic syndromes.
What will happen during pregnancy?
Ventriculomegaly is diagnosed by prenatal ultrasound. Throughout the pregnancy, the ultrasound will be repeated to follow the progression of disease as well as to evaluate other structures of the brain. Once ventriculomegaly is diagnosed, additional tests may be recommended such as amniocentesis to evaluate the chromosomes of your baby and a fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the structures of the brain more closely.
Will a fetal treatment be required?
There is no fetal treatment for ventriculomegaly. After a complete evaluation of your baby, the physicians and counselors at the Center will discuss all of your test results and help you understand what to expect after delivery.
What special considerations should be made for delivery?
Type of delivery - Cesarean delivery is usually not necessary for ventriculomegaly. The delivery plan will be carefully discussed between you and your obstetrician.
Place of delivery - The baby should be delivered at a hospital that is well prepared to handle the intensive care and neurosurgery required of infants with ventriculomegaly. There should be a neonatal intensive care unit with the capability to provide specialized care and surgical services.
Time of delivery - There is usually no reason to intentionally induce early delivery and mothers can usually carry the child to term.
What will happen at birth?
Immediately following delivery, doctors will carefully evaluate the baby and begin necessary treatment. The baby will be stabilized and may require admission to the neonatal intensive care unit. The pediatric neurosurgeons and neurologists will evaluate your newborn and discuss future treatments if necessary. The physicians at the Center will develop a comprehensive plan for you and your baby before, during, and after birth.
What are the long-term outcomes and considerations?
Long-term outcomes for infants with ventriculomegaly are variable. The neurological condition of your newborn is dependent on the severity of the ventriculomegaly and the presence of associated abnormalities. Children born with ventriculomegaly may have mild conditions such as developmental delay to severe conditions such as cerebral palsy. Your pediatric neurologists and neurosurgeons should be able to provide some sense of the severity of neurological impairment.
The Center team will help care for you and your infant with ventriculomegaly. The Center will develop a comprehensive plan with all of the physicians and specialists involved in the care of you and your newborn.
Contact The Fetal Center to make an appointment with a high-risk pregnancy doctor.
Note: This information regarding your condition is meant to be a helpful, informative introduction. Because every newborn is different, this may not be applicable to all cases, especially if there are additional defects. Your team of experts at the Center will provide you with information specific to your pregnancy.