Role of cerebral ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging in newborns with congenital cytomegalovirus infection

Brain Dev. 2014 Mar;36(3):203-11. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2013.04.001. Epub 2013 May 3.


Purpose: To assess the diagnostic and prognostic value of cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI) in comparison with that of cerebral ultrasound (cUS) in predicting neurodevelopmental outcome in newborns with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.

Methods: Forty CMV-congenitally infected newborns underwent cUS and cMRI within the first month of life. Clinical course, laboratory findings, visual/hearing function and neurodevelopmental outcome were documented.

Results: Thirty newborns showed normal cMRI, cUS and hearing/visual function in the first month of life; none showed CMV-related abnormalities at follow-up. Six newborns showed pathological cMRI and cUS findings (pseudocystis, ventriculomegaly, calcifications, cerebellar hypoplasia) but cMRI provided additional information (white matter abnormalities in three cases, lissencephaly/polymicrogyria in one and a cyst of the temporal lobe in another one); cerebral calcifications were detected in 3/6 infants by cUS but only in 2/6 by cMRI. Four of these 6 infants showed severe neurodevelopmental impairment and five showed deafness during follow-up. Three newborns had a normal cUS, but cMRI documented white matter abnormalities and in one case also cerebellar hypoplasia; all showed neurodevelopmental impairment and two were deaf at follow-up. One more newborn showed normal cUS and cMRI, but brainstem auditory evoked responses were abnormal; psychomotor development was normal at follow-up.

Conclusions: Compared with cUS, cMRI disclosed additional pathological findings in CMV-congenitally infected newborns. cUS is a readily available screening tool useful in the identification of infected newborns with major cerebral involvement. Further studies with a larger sample size are needed to determine the prognostic role of MRI, particularly regarding isolated white matter lesions.

Keywords: Cerebral MRI; Cytomegalovirus; Hearing loss; Neurodevelopment; Ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Diseases / congenital*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Brain Diseases / virology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / congenital*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / pathology
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Echoencephalography*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hearing Tests
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity