Prenatal diagnosis of congenital agenesis of the fetal portal venous system

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;34(6):643-52. doi: 10.1002/uog.7460.


Objective: To describe the prenatal diagnosis and review our experience of fetal congenital agenesis of the portal venous system (CAPVS) and to review the current literature on this poorly documented vascular malformation.

Methods: This was a retrospective survey covering the 12-year period between 1996 and 2008. The database of a single, large, ultrasonographic tertiary academic referral center in Israel was analyzed and cases with a prenatal diagnosis of CAPVS were identified. All fetuses underwent detailed biometric and structural ultrasound examinations and a precise anatomical description of the fetal umbilical, portal and hepatic venous system was noted, as well as the presence of aberrant vessels, shunt location and the presence or absence of the DV. Results of fetal echocardiography, karyotyping and toxoplasma, rubella, cytomegalovirus and herpes evaluations were determined. Medical records were evaluated. Diagnosis was confirmed by pathology, postmortem venography or neonatal ultrasound or venography. Liveborns were examined by a certified neonatologist and long-term follow-up from pediatric gastroenterology units was determined.

Results: Nine cases with CAPVS were studied. In all cases an aberrant umbilical-portal vein was the primary indication for detailed portal system evaluation. Five fetuses demonstrated total CAPVS (Type I) and four showed partial agenesis of the portal vein (Type II). Among the five Type I fetuses, there was a shunt from the umbilical vein to the inferior vena cava in three (60%), to the right atrium in one and to the coronary sinus in one. In this group, in only one case could we delineate a common confluence between the splenic vein and the superior mesenteric vein shunting to the inferior vena cava. In four cases termination of pregnancy was performed due to additional findings: one case with hydrothorax, ascites and mitral atresia, one with cleft lip/palate and one with trisomy 21. One case had no additional anomalies, but the parents elected to terminate the pregnancy. All four of the Type II fetuses had a portosystemic shunt: in two cases to the right atrium, in one to the iliac vein and in one to the right hepatic vein. In three, the shunt resolved spontaneously. In only one case was abnormal liver function present over a follow-up period of 2-10 years.

Conclusion: CAPVS can be detected prenatally. An abnormal course of the umbilical vein necessitates prompt sonographic evaluation of the umbilical-portal venous system and meticulous investigation for additional anomalies. Complete CAPVS may be associated with remote clinical consequences of which the parents should be informed. Partial CAPVS has a favorable prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fetal Heart / abnormalities
  • Fetal Heart / diagnostic imaging
  • Fetal Heart / embryology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Portal System / abnormalities*
  • Portal System / diagnostic imaging
  • Portal System / embryology
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • Umbilical Veins / abnormalities
  • Umbilical Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Umbilical Veins / embryology