Cortical overgrowth in fetuses with isolated ventriculomegaly.
Kyriakopoulou V., Vatansever D., Elkommos S., Dawson S., McGuinness A., Allsop J., Molnár Z., Hajnal J., Rutherford M.
Mild cerebral ventricular enlargement is associated with schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Fetal ventriculomegaly is the most common central nervous system (CNS) abnormality affecting 1% of fetuses and is associated with cognitive, language, and behavioral impairments in childhood. Neurodevelopmental outcome is partially predictable by the 2-dimensional size of the ventricles in the absence of other abnormalities. We hypothesized that isolated fetal ventriculomegaly is a marker of altered brain development characterized by relative overgrowth and aimed to quantify brain growth using volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in fetuses with isolated ventriculomegaly. Fetal brain MRI (1.5 T) was performed in 60 normal fetuses and 65 with isolated ventriculomegaly, across a gestational age range of 22-38 weeks. Volumetric analysis of the ventricles and supratentorial brain structures was performed on 3-dimensional reconstructed datasets. Fetuses with isolated ventriculomegaly had increased brain parenchyma volumes when compared with the control cohort (9.6%, P < 0.0001) with enlargement restricted to the cortical gray matter (17.2%, P = 0.002). The extracerebral cerebrospinal fluid and third and fourth ventricles were also enlarged. White matter, basal ganglia, and thalamic volumes were not significantly different between cohorts. The presence of relative cortical overgrowth in fetuses with ventriculomegaly may represent the neurobiological substrate for cognitive, language, and behavioral deficits in these children.