Fetal ventriculomegaly is the widening of the fluid-filled spaces of the brain. These are called the ventricles. It happens in babies before they are born.
Fetal ventriculomegaly may be caused by problems with how the brain grows. It may also be caused by the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord. It should move smoothly. If its flow is slowed or stopped, it can put pressure on the ventricles and make them get bigger.
Things that may raise the risk of fetal ventriculomegaly are:
- Brain cysts
- Spina bifida
- Bleeding within the brain
- A rare birth defect called agenesis of the corpus callosum
Certain infections in the mother can raise the risk. These are:
After birth, a child may have:
- Rapid head growth
- A bulging soft spot
- Scalp veins that bulge
- Problems with eye movement
- Delays in development
- Problems feeding
- Fussiness or sleepiness
Fetal ventriculomegaly is often found during an ultrasound before the baby is born. More testing may be done by specialists and after birth.
Before birth, the baby’s health may be checked with:
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Sometimes fetal ventriculomegaly gets better on its own. The baby's health will be monitored.
If the problem gets worse, other methods will be needed to drain the fluid. This can be done by placing a ventriculoperitoneal shunt after the child is born.
There are no known guidelines to prevent fetal ventriculomegaly.
- Hydrocephalus in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hydrocephalus-in-children.
- Pediatric ventriculomegaly. Children’s National Health System website. Available at: http://childrensnational.org/choose-childrens/conditions-and-treatments/fetal-carepregnancy/ventriculomegaly.
- Ventriculomegaly and hydrocephaly. Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital website. Available at: http://childrens.memorialhermann.org/conditions/ventriculomegaly-and-hydrocephaly.
- Wright Z, Larrew TW, et al. Pediatric Hydrocephalus: Current State of Diagnosis and Treatment. Pediatr Rev. 2016 Nov;37(11):478-490.
- Kari Kuenn, MD
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