Hemimegalencephaly: Evolution From an Atypical Focal Early Appearance on Fetal MRI to More Conventional MR Findings

Cureus. 2022 Aug 13;14(8):e27976. doi: 10.7759/cureus.27976. eCollection 2022 Aug.


Hemimegalencephaly, or unilateral megalencephaly, is a sporadic congenital brain malformation characterized by enlargement of a cerebral hemisphere due to an abnormal proliferation of neurons or glial cells. Hemimegalencephaly is part of a spectrum of disorders, increasingly referred to as mTORopathies, which arise as a result of dysregulation or hyperactivation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-signaling cascade resulting in less restricted cell growth and survival. The resultant cortical disorganization and enhanced neuronal excitability often manifest clinically in the form of seizures. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are often used to characterize hemimegalencephaly. Typical imaging findings seen include diffuse unilateral enlargement of a cerebral hemisphere with overlying cortical malformation and ipsilateral dilation of the lateral ventricle. This paper will review an unusual case of focal hemimegalencephaly diagnosed on prenatal imaging. Initial in utero MRI revealed a mass-like lesion in the frontal lobe without associated perilesional cerebral edema. Keying in on abnormalities within the overlying cortex was crucial in suggesting focal hemimegalencephaly as a leading diagnosis and distinguishing it from alternative diagnoses such as a neoplasm. Follow-up fetal MRI demonstrated the evolution of the cerebral abnormality and confirmed the diagnosis. Early diagnosis facilitated appropriate counseling of the parents and guided postnatal imaging and management.

Keywords: congenital birth defect; congenital malformation; fetal imaging; focal hemimegalencephaly; hemimegalencephaly; neonatal neurology; neuroradiology; pediatric radiology; pediatrics & neonatology; unilateral megalencephaly.

Publication types

  • Case Reports