Role of three-dimensional ultrasound measurement of the optic tract in fetuses with agenesis of the septum pellucidum

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2011 May;37(5):570-5. doi: 10.1002/uog.8847.


Objectives: To construct reference ranges for fetal optic tract mean diameter and to report measurements in fetuses with agenesis of the septum pellucidum (SP).

Methods: Three-dimensional volumes of the optic chiasm were acquired in 98 normal fetuses during routine sonographic examination at 21-36 weeks' gestation and the diameters of the posterior left and right optic tracts were measured offline. A polynomial regression approach (mean and SD model) was used to compute reference charts for the mean fetal optic tract diameter measurements. In addition, 23 volumes were acquired in fetuses with SP agenesis for offline measurement of optic tract diameter. Complete follow-up was obtained in 13 of these 23 cases.

Results: In normal fetuses, the optic tract diameter increased linearly throughout gestation. There was no evidence of increased variability with gestational age (constant SD). Normal charts and equations for Z-score calculation were constructed. Among the 13 fetuses with SP agenesis and complete follow-up, nine had normal measurements, of which eight had normal vision postnatally. Four had hypoplastic optic tract, defined as mean optic tract diameter Z-score below - 3. Of these, two underwent termination of pregnancy and pathological examination confirmed hypoplasia of the tract, one showed signs of hypoplasia at magnetic resonance imaging and postnatal examination confirmed blindness, and one had a hypoplastic measurement for only one tract and was born with poor vision and abnormal bilateral eye movements.

Conclusion: We present new reference charts for mean fetal optic tract diameter. In fetuses with agenesis of the SP, sonography of the optic tract might be a useful tool to assess its development and may help in prenatal counseling.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Observer Variation
  • Optic Chiasm / diagnostic imaging*
  • Optic Chiasm / embryology
  • Pregnancy
  • Reference Values
  • Septo-Optic Dysplasia / diagnostic imaging
  • Septum Pellucidum / abnormalities
  • Septum Pellucidum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • Visual Pathways / abnormalities
  • Visual Pathways / diagnostic imaging*

Supplementary concepts

  • Absence of septum pellucidum