Abnormalities of the foetal cerebral cortex

Prenat Diagn. 2009 Apr;29(4):355-71. doi: 10.1002/pd.2211.


Prenatal ultrasound has concentrated on readily visible cerebral structures including head size, shape, ventricles, CSP (cavum septi pellucidi), cerebellar size/vermian presence and cisterna magna. However, apart from these easily visible structures it is important to evaluate the brain itself. Patients who initially appear to have mild isolated findings such as borderline ventriculomegaly in fact can have many more subtle findings that significantly alter prognosis and management that can be detected on detailed examination of the brain. There has been rapid evolution in imaging these foetuses, especially with neurosonography and MRI, and a revolution in understanding the underlying genetic and biochemical mechanisms. There is increasing emphasis to detect cortical abnormalities as early as possible. This article reviews development of the cerebral cortex, the classification, aetiologies and clinical manifestations of cortical disorders, normal and abnormal appearances at ultrasound and MRI, and approaches to investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement
  • Cerebral Cortex / abnormalities*
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Microcephaly / embryology
  • Neurons
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • Risk Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal