Fetal intracranial hemorrhage. Prenatal diagnosis and postnatal outcomes

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2019 Jan;32(1):21-30. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2017.1369521. Epub 2017 Sep 4.


Objective: To present our experience with 14 cases of fetal intracranial hemorrhage (ICH).

Methods: Cases of fetal ICH detected in our institution between 2005 and 2016 by ultrasonography. Maternal characteristics, ultrasound and MRI findings, and postnatal outcome were noted.

Results: Twelve cases (86.7%) were identified during a third trimester routine scan at a median gestational age of 30.6 weeks. The ICH was classified as Grade 2 in two cases, Grade 3 in three cases, and Grade 4 in nine cases. Nine cases were bilateral and five were unilateral (four left/one right). The 11 MRI available confirmed grade and location and, in six cases (54.5%), added new findings. There were six terminations of pregnancy, one intrauterine fetal death and seven babies born alive. These were followed up for 28 months (range 3-96). Some grade of neurologic impairment was observed in five children (71.4%, one Grade 3/four Grade 4), mainly mild to moderate motor sequelae.

Conclusion: Diagnosis of fetal ICH is amenable to antenatal US. Most of the cases identified are of high grade and usually detected during the third trimester. MRI is a valuable complementary tool in evaluating ICH. Conversely to that previously reported, postnatal survival is high but it entails the risk of adverse neurologic outcome in most neonates.

Keywords: CNS; fetal MRI; intracranial hemorrhage; intraventricular hemorrhage; ultrasonography.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal