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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2011 Jun-Jul;32(6):1123-9. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A2440. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

Congenital microcephaly with a simplified gyral pattern: associated findings and their significance.

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  • 1Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, 94143, USA.



Primary microcephaly is an incompletely understood malformation that is often associated with developmental brain anomalies, yet whether the associated anomalies result from the microcephaly itself or from associated developmental/genetic mishaps is not yet understood. This study reviewed and analyzed a large number of MR imaging scans of children with microcephaly to determine the frequency of associated morphologic findings and to assess whether these findings were associated with the severity of the microcephaly.


MR images of 119 patients with clinically diagnosed microcephaly were retrospectively reviewed, focusing on the degree of microcephaly, simplification of gyri, white matter volume, abnormalities of the corpus callosum, size and structure of posterior fossa contents, and myelination. Associations among the findings were evaluated by using the Spearman correlation coefficient and the Fisher exact test.


Among 7 patients with mild, 42 with moderate, and 70 with extreme microcephaly, a significant correlation was identified between a greater degree of microcephaly and both a greater degree of simplified gyration and decreased white matter volume. The severity of the callosal anomaly showed a lower but still significant correlation with the severity of microcephaly. Degree of hypoplasia of posterior fossa structures, delay in myelination, and abnormality of the basal ganglia did not correlate with the degree of microcephaly.


A strong correlation was found between the degree of microcephaly, the volume of white matter, and the presence of a simplified gyral pattern. These associations should be considered when attempting to use neuroimaging for segregation and classification of patients with microcephaly.

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