Congenital Aqueductal Stenosis: Findings at Fetal MRI That Accurately Predict a Postnatal Diagnosis

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2018 May;39(5):942-948. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A5590. Epub 2018 Mar 8.


Background and purpose: Congenital aqueductal stenosis is a common cause of prenatal ventriculomegaly. An accurate diagnosis provides prognostic information and may guide obstetric management. The purpose of this study was to identify specific anatomic findings on prenatal MR imaging that can be used as predictors of congenital aqueductal stenosis.

Materials and methods: Prenatal and postnatal MRIs of fetuses referred to our institution for ventriculomegaly between June 2008 and August 2015 were reviewed. Imaging findings in postnatally confirmed congenital aqueductal stenosis (disease group) were compared with those of ventriculomegaly cases from other causes (control group). Univariate analysis was performed using the Fisher exact test and the Wilcoxon rank test, and multivariate analysis, via the random forest method.

Results: Forty-three cases of ventriculomegaly had a confirmed postnatal diagnosis of congenital aqueductal stenosis. Thirty-two ventriculomegaly cases negative for congenital aqueductal stenosis were included in the control group. Dominant findings associated with an accurate prenatal diagnosis of congenital aqueductal stenosis on multivariate analysis included the following: enlarged inferior third ventricular recesses, enlargement of the lateral ventricles and third ventricle, and an abnormal corpus callosum. Findings that significantly increase the probability of congenital aqueductal stenosis (high positive predictive value) included the following: enlarged third ventricular recesses, aqueduct funneling, hemorrhage in the cerebral aqueduct, ventricular diverticulum, rhombencephalosynapsis, and dystroglycanopathy-related cerebellar dysplasia.

Conclusions: Our study identified specific characteristics on fetal MR imaging that can be used as predictors of the diagnosis of congenital aqueductal stenosis. Most of these findings are secondary to the obstructive nature of the resulting hydrocephalus. Common associated malformations such as rhombencephalosynapsis and dystroglycanopathies should also increase the suspicion of congenital aqueductal stenosis when present with ventriculomegaly.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Aqueduct / abnormalities
  • Cerebral Aqueduct / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Fetus / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / congenital*
  • Hydrocephalus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*