An autopsy case of epignathus (immature teratoma of the soft palate) with intracranial extension but without brain invasion: case report and literature review

Diagn Pathol. 2018 Dec 22;13(1):99. doi: 10.1186/s13000-018-0776-y.


Background: Epignathus is a rare congenital orofacial teratoma infrequently associated with intracranial extension. Intracranial extension of an epignathus indicates a poor prognosis; however, only a small number of such cases have been reported. While there have been some studies reporting cases of epignathus expanding directly into the cranium, others have reported no communication between an epignathus and an intracranial tumor.

Case presentation: A fetus at gestational week 27 was suspected of having an epignathus with intracranial tumor as shown by ultrasonographic and magnetic resonance imaging. The fetus was stillborn and an autopsy was performed. An epignathus measuring 12 × 6 × 6 cm and weighing 270 g protruded from the mouth, with its base on the soft palate. An intracranial tumor weighing 14 g was located at the middle intracranial fossa and connected to the epignathus through the right side of the sella turcica. The intracranial tumor was encapsulated, and there was no invasion into the brain. Histologically, both the epignathus and intracranial tumor were immature teratomas, with neural and pulmonary components that were especially immature as compared to those of the internal organs and brain tissues of the fetus.

Conclusion: There have been several reports of epignathus and intracranial tumors that did not communicate; therefore, careful evaluation is needed when a fetus is suspected of having an epignathus extending into an intracranial lesion. Our case supports the findings that an epignathus can directly expand into the cranium. Moreover, this is a rare case of an epignathus in which the intracranial lesion was encapsulated and did not invade the brain. These rare but important findings will provide additional, potential therapeutic strategies for gynecologists, neurosurgeons, and pathologists.

Keywords: Epignathus; Hypoxia; Immature teratoma; Intracranial extension.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autopsy
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Palate, Soft / diagnostic imaging
  • Palate, Soft / pathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Stillbirth
  • Teratoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Teratoma / pathology*
  • Tumor Burden
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal