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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Aug;22(2):121-30.

Outcome of antenatally diagnosed intracranial hemorrhage: case series and review of the literature.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Policlinico S. Orsola-Malpighi, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.



Prenatal diagnosis of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) has been widely reported. Hemorrhages may occur either within the cerebral ventricles, subdural space or infratentorial fossa. The aim of this study was to determine the sonographic criteria for the diagnosis of fetal ICH, the role of in utero magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the outcome of this condition.


The archives of our ultrasound laboratory and the literature were searched for all cases of antenatally diagnosed ICH. A grading system was used to classify the intraventricular lesions as suggested in postnatal sonographic studies.


Adding our series of 16 fetuses to the 93 cases identified in the literature, a group of 109 fetal ICHs was obtained: 89 were intracerebral (79 intraventricular and 10 infratentorial) and 20 were subdural hemorrhages. Intraventricular lesions were mostly classified as severe (32 each for Grades III and IV). In 27 cases antenatal MRI was performed additionally to ultrasound and confirmed the sonographic findings. Of the entire group, 65 infants (59%) were reported to be alive 1 month after birth (51 intraventricular hemorrhages, three infratentorial hemorrhages, 11 subdural hematomas). At 12 months, of the 48 infants whose follow-up was available, 25 or 52% were judged neurologically normal (17/36 or 47% among the intraventricular hemorrhages, 6/9 or 66% among the hematomas, and 2/3 or 66% among the infratentorial hemorrhages).


Fetal ICH may be accurately identified and categorized by antenatal sonography. The outcome is usually poor, especially for those fetuses affected by higher-grade intraventricular hemorrhages.

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