Malformation of cortical development with abnormal cortex: early ultrasound diagnosis between 14 and 24 weeks of gestation

K. Krajden Haratz, R. Birnbaum, D. Kidron, J. Har-Toov, Y. Salemnick, M. Brusilov, G. Malinger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To describe neurosonographic findings diagnostic or highly suggestive of the presence of malformations of cortical development involving the cortex that may be identified before 24 weeks of gestation. Methods: This was a retrospective single-center study of fetuses referred for neurosonography, during 2012–2019, with an abnormal cortical or sulcation pattern diagnosed early in the mid trimester. Stored files were analyzed for demographic data, abnormal brain findings, non-central nervous system abnormalities, final diagnosis and postnatal outcome. Results: The study cohort included 20 fetuses, with a mean gestational age at diagnosis of 18.7 (range, 14.4–23.6) weeks, in 11 of which the diagnosis was made before 20 weeks of gestation. Reasons for referral were: midline anomaly (n = 7), ventriculomegaly (n = 4), infratentorial findings (n = 3), suspected malformation of cortical development (n = 3), ‘abnormal brain’ (n = 2) and skeletal dysplasia (n = 1). On neurosonography, both the sulcation pattern and the cortical layer were abnormal in four cases, only the sulcation pattern was considered abnormal in seven and only the cortical layer was abnormal in nine. Nineteen fetuses presented with associated central nervous system anomalies and six also had non-central nervous system malformations. One case was recurrent. Eighteen parents opted for termination of pregnancy, including one selective termination in a twin pregnancy, and two fetuses were liveborn. Conclusions: Familiarity with fetal brain anatomy and its early sonographic landmarks allowed early diagnosis of malformations involving cortical development. These patients are likely to represent the most severe cases and all had associated malformations. The presence of an abnormal cortical layer and/or abnormal overdeveloped sulci appear to be early signs of malformation of cortical development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-565
Number of pages7
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • MCD
  • cortex
  • early diagnosis
  • fetus
  • malformation of cortical development
  • ultrasound


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