Fetal brain imaging provides valuable information in cCMV infected infants

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2023 Dec;36(1):2220564. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2023.2220564.


Background: Congenital CMV infection (cCMV) is the most common congenital infection with 10-15% of cases developing symptomatic disease. Early antiviral treatment is of essence when symptomatic disease is suspected. Recently, the use of neonatal imaging has been implicated as a prognostic tool for long term sequalae among asymptomatic newborns at high risk. Even though neonatal MRI is commonly used in neonatal symptomatic cCMV disease, it is less often used in asymptomatic newborns, mainly due to cost, access and difficulty to perform. We have therefore developed an interest in assessing the use of fetal imaging as an alternative. Our primary aim was to compare the fetal and neonatal MRIs in a small cohort 10 asymptomatic neonates with congenital CMV infection.

Methods: We performed a single-center retrospective cohort study (case-series) on a convenience sample of children born from January 2014 to March 2021 with confirmed congenital CMV infection who had undergone both fetal and neonatal MRIs. We created a checklist of relevant cerebral abnormalities and asked 4 blinded radiologists to assess the MRIs (2 for each, namely fetal and neonatal) and then compared the findings between the fetal and neonatal imaging as well as the concordance in reporting of abnormalities within each category.

Findings: Overall concordance between prenatal and postnatal scans was high (70%). When comparing the two blinded reports for each MRI, we found high levels of concordance: 90% concordance for fetal MRIs and 100% for neonatal MRIs. The most common abnormalities identified in both fetal and neonatal scans were "abnormal white matter hyperintensity" and "subependymal cysts."

Interpretation: Even though this is a small descriptive study, it indicates that fetal MRI could potentially provide us with similar information as neonatal imaging. This study could form the basis for subsequent larger future studies.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Congenital CMV; MRI; cerebral abnormalities; fetal; neonatal; prenatal diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / congenital
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuroimaging
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies