Fetal intracranial haemorrhage: clinical significance of in utero ultrasonographic diagnosis

R. Achiron*, O. Hamiel Pinchas, B. Reichman, Z. Heyman, M. Schimmel, A. Eidelman, S. Mashiach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To review in utero detection of fetal intracranial haemorrhage. Design Retrospective survey of pregnant women presenting to the ultrasonographic unit in whom the diagnosis of fetal intracranial haemorrhage was reached. Setting The Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, and Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem; two large district general hospitals, each with 6000 maternity patients per year. Subjects Five fetuses with gestational ages ranging from 26 to 36 weeks. Main outcome measures Maternal complications, fetal monitoring, prenatal Doppler ultrasound studies, postnatal imaging studies, neonatal morbidity and mortality. Results Transabdominal sonography showed hyperechoic lesions in the brain parenchyma, and the lateral ventricle in three of five fetuses. In the remaining two fetuses, transvaginal sonography enhanced the visualisation of ventriculomegaly with intraventricular haemorrhage in one and periventricular leukomalacia was identified in the second. Three fetuses were appropriate for gestational age, and two were severely growth retarded. In one woman severe pre‐eclamptic toxaemia may explain intracranial haemorrhage. Abnormal nonstress test and abnormal flow velocity waveforms in the umbilical and cerebral arteries were present in the two growth retarded fetuses, and in one who was appropriate for gestational age. The two growth retarded fetuses died shortly after birth. Of the three surviving infants, two had normal long term development, and one developed hydrocephalus with subsequent severe neurodevelopmental retardation, dying at the age of seven months. Conclusions This small series shows that intracranial haemorrhage has a broad spectrum of manifestations with diverse prognosis. Following an antenatal diagnosis of intracranial haemorrhage, the obstetrician must give special consideration to electronic fetal heart monitoring and Doppler velocity waveforms. The prenatal diagnosis of intracranial haemorrhage has medico‐legal implications suggesting that neurological outcome may not necessarily be due solely to intrapartum events and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)995-999
Number of pages5
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1993
Externally publishedYes


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