The spectrum of cranial ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities in congenital cytomegalovirus infection

Neuropediatrics. 2004 Apr;35(2):113-9. doi: 10.1055/s-2004-815833.


Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection can lead to severe neurological sequelae and (progressive) sensorineural deafness. Neonatal imaging data is mainly based on cranial ultrasound (US) and computed tomography (CT). The additional value of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was assessed in congenital CMV infection. The eleven infants studied had a gestational age between 34 and 41 weeks and a birth weight between 1000 and 2780 grams. All but 2 of the infants presented with microcephaly and jaundice at birth. The diagnosis was confirmed postnatally in all infants by isolation of the virus or a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from the urine. Cranial US was performed in all, MRI in 6 during the neonatal period and later in infancy in 2. Auditory brainstem evoked responses (ABR) were performed in all survivors. US showed periventricular calcifications and/or lenticulostriate vasculopathy associated with mild to moderate ventricular dilatation in 10 of the 11 children. Periventricular (pseudo) cysts were seen in 6 children, being occipital in 4, temporal in 3 and fronto-parietal in 1. The cerebellum appeared to be small in 4 children. MRI provided additional information in 6 of the 8 children. Polymicrogyria in the perisylvian region was seen in 4 children, hippocampal dysplasia in 3 and cerebellar hypoplasia in 4 children. Abnormal signal intensity in the white matter was seen in 4 infants. ABRs were abnormal in 7 of the 9 children. Four children died in the neonatal period, 4 developed severe neurological sequelae, associated with epilepsy and sensorineural deafness in 3. Three children were still too young to be tested, but 2 of these showed sensorineural deafness. MRI provided important additional information, especially with regard to associated polymicrogyria, hippocampal dysplasia, and cerebellar hypoplasia. Calcifications were better seen using US. A combination of US and neonatal MRI should be recommended instead of a CT which is still recommended in the literature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / congenital
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / pathology*
  • Echoencephalography
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nervous System Diseases / virology
  • Prognosis