Neurodevelopmental outcome in isolated mild fetal ventriculomegaly: systematic review and meta-analysis

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Sep;44(3):254-60. doi: 10.1002/uog.13364. Epub 2014 Jul 21.


Objectives: The finding of fetal ventriculomegaly is variably associated with other fetal abnormalities and, even when isolated, is thought to be linked to abnormal neurodevelopmental outcome. The aim of this study was to undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis of the current literature to assess the prevalence of neurodevelopmental delay in cases of isolated mild fetal ventriculomegaly, as well as the false-negative rate of prenatal imaging for the diagnosis of associated abnormalities in patients referred for isolated mild ventriculomegaly.

Methods: Studies that assessed neurodevelopmental outcome in isolated ventriculomegaly were identified from a search of scientific databases. Studies that did not check for karyotype or that excluded cases of bilateral ventriculomegaly were not included in the analysis. Ventriculomegaly was defined as mild when the width of the ventricular atrium was between 10 and 15 mm. Cases in which an associated abnormality (abnormal karyotype, structural abnormality or fetal infection) was observed either before or after birth were not considered as part of the isolated group. Neurodevelopmental delay was defined as an abnormal quotient score, according to the test used.

Results: The search yielded 961 possible citations; of these, 904 were excluded by review of the title or abstract as they did not meet the selection criteria. Full manuscripts were retrieved for 57 studies, and 20 were included in the review with a total of 699 cases of isolated mild ventriculomegaly. The overall prevalence of neurodevelopmental delay was 7.9% (95% CI, 4.7-11.1%). Of the 20 studies included in the systematic review, nine reported data on postnatal imaging, showing a prevalence of previously undiagnosed findings of 7.4% (95% CI, 3.1-11.8%).

Conclusions: The false-negative rate of prenatal imaging is 7.4% in apparently isolated fetal ventriculomegaly of ≤ 15 mm. The incidence of neurodevelopmental delay in truly isolated ventriculomegaly of ≤ 15 mm is 7.9%. As the latter rate is similar to that noted in the general population, large prospective cohort studies assessing the prevalence of childhood disability, rather than subtle neurodevelopmental delay, are required.

Keywords: fetal; follow-up; isolated; mild; neurodevelopmental; outcome; review; ventriculomegaly.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Fetal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / complications
  • Hydrocephalus / diagnostic imaging
  • Hydrocephalus / physiopathology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lateral Ventricles / abnormalities*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*