How Does Imaging of Congenital Zika Compare with Imaging of Other TORCH Infections?

Radiology. 2017 Dec;285(3):744-761. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2017171238.


The acronym TORCH is used to refer to congenital infections, such as toxoplasmosis, other infections (such as syphillis, varicella-zoster, and parvovirus B19), cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus. The classic findings in patients with TORCH infections include rash in the mother during pregnancy and ocular findings in the newborn. Zika virus has emerged as an important worldwide congenital infection. It fits well with other congenital TORCH infections since there is a rash in the mother and there are commonly ocular abnormalities in the newborn. TORCH infections are recognized to have neurologic effects, such as ventriculomegaly, intraventricular adhesions, subependymal cysts, intracerebral calcifications, and microcephaly; however, the Zika virus is intensely neurotropic. Thus, it targets neural progenitor cells, leading to a more severe spectrum of central nervous system abnormalities than is typically seen in other TORCH infections, while relatively sparing the other organ systems. In this review, nonspecific findings of congenital infections initially will be described, then individual TORCH infections will be described and compared with the imaging findings associated with congenital Zika virus infection. For the radiologist, awareness of imaging features of common congenital infections may facilitate early diagnosis and may, at times, lead to prompt initiation of therapy. Online supplemental material is available for this article.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Errors / prevention & control*
  • Encephalitis, Viral / congenital
  • Encephalitis, Viral / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnostic imaging*
  • Syndrome
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods*
  • Zika Virus Infection / congenital*
  • Zika Virus Infection / diagnostic imaging*