Hyperechoic thickened ependyma: sonographic demonstration and significance in neonates

Pediatr Radiol. 1994;24(8):550-3. doi: 10.1007/BF02012729.


In the neonate, hyperechoic thickening of the ependyma is believed to be related to ventriculitis. Yet, in our experience, this sign is much more often observed in association with subacute intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), without infection. Sixty premature neonates were prospectively studied. The observations of transfontanellar sonograms (intracranial hemorrhage, ependymal echogenicity, and ventriculomegaly) were correlated with the results of MRI, lumbar punctures and clinical work-up. Intracranial hemorrhage was detected in 28 patients, and hyperechoic thickening of the ependyma was observed in 21 of them, all of whom had IVH. In 9 of these 21 patients IVH was diagnosed retrospectively thanks to the visualization of the hyperechoic ependyma. In all but one, this sign persisted for at least 2 months after disappearance of other signs of IVH. MRI demonstrated the presence of hemosiderin and ferritin in ependymal or subependymal location only in patients with hyperechoic ependyma. One of our patients had in utero diagnosis of IVH owing to the visualization of the same hyperechoic aspect of the ependyma. Nine of the neonates with hyperechoic ependyma developed ventriculomegaly, and three underwent surgery. Hyperechoic thickening of the ependyma in prematures often results from a subacute IVH. It is related to hemoglobin catabolites which can be detected by MRI. It does not require immediate potentially harmful diagnostic punctures. The presence of this hyperechoic rim allows a retrospective diagnosis of IVH and indicates a clinical and sonographic follow-up in newborns at risk for secondary hydrocephalus.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ependyma / chemistry
  • Ependyma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ependyma / pathology
  • Female
  • Ferritins / analysis
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemosiderin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography


  • Ferritins
  • Hemosiderin