Isolated hyperechoic fetal bowel: significance and implications for management

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Oct;173(4):1254-8. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(95)91365-3.


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the significance of isolated hyperechoic fetal bowel.

Study design: Forty-five cases with prospective, ultrasonographic diagnosis of isolated hyperechoic fetal bowel were reviewed. Fetal variables, including aneuploidy, deoxyribonucleic acid studies for cystic fibrosis, congenital infection, growth retardation, and intrauterine death were reported.

Results: Thirty-four of the 45 cases (76%) resulted in live-born infants without detected abnormalities. However, hyperechoic bowel was associated with cystic fibrosis in two cases (4%), congenital infection in two cases (4%), and fetal alcohol syndrome in one case. Termination of pregnancy was elected in three cases and intrauterine fetal death occurred in three cases (7%). Growth retardation was observed in five of 39 (13%) live-born infants.

Conclusion: Isolated hyperechoic fetal bowel is associated with significant pathologic disorders. Women whose fetuses are diagnosed as having isolated hyperechoic bowel should be offered additional prenatal diagnostic options, including maternal serologic studies for congenital infection, fetal karyotype, and deoxyribonucleic acid testing for cystic fibrosis. In addition, continuing ultrasonographic evaluation of fetal growth and antenatal biophysical assessment should be considered.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Fetal Death / diagnostic imaging
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • Intestines / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intestines / embryology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*