Hyperechogenic fetal bowel: an ultrasonographic marker for adverse fetal and neonatal outcome

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Aug;173(2):508-13. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(95)90274-0.


Objective: Fetal hyperchogenic bowel is associated with a variety of conditions, the incidence of which has yet to be studied.

Study design: The outcomes of 182 cases of fetal hyperechogenic bowel were reviewed. Screening for maternal toxoplasmosis, fetal karyotyping, and amniotic fluid digestive enzyme assays were performed in all cases. Eight mutations associated with cystic fibrosis were analyzed in 116 cases.

Results: Of 135 newborns, 121 were normal, but nine underwent surgery for gastrointestinal obstruction, three had cytomegalovirus or parvovirus infection, one had a triple X chromosome, and one died from sudden infant death syndrome. In utero fetal death was observed in 24 cases. Elective termination of pregnancy was performed in 23 cases for associated anomalies.

Conclusions: Hyperechogenic fetal bowel was associated with increased risk for adverse outcome. Prenatal management should include ultrasonographic surveillance, fetal karyotyping, amniotic digestive enzyme assays, and screening for cystic fibrosis and infectious disease.

MeSH terms

  • Amniocentesis
  • Amniotic Fluid / chemistry
  • Amniotic Fluid / cytology
  • Congenital Abnormalities / diagnosis
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / congenital
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestines / diagnostic imaging*
  • Karyotyping
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*