Fetal Hydrocephalus Caused by Cryptic Intraventricular Hemorrhage


Marc R. Del Bigio, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Department of Pathology, University of Manitoba, Room 401 Brodie Centre, 727 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3E 3P5 (E-mail: delbigi@cc.umanitoba.ca)


Cryptic intracerebral hemorrhage as an etiological factor in fetal hydrocephalus has been postulated but not described at autopsy. Four fetuses with overt hydrocephalus diagnosed by in utero ultrasound examination were examined at autopsy at 19–22 weeks gestation. Although a hemorrhagic etiology was not evident on ultrasound, hemosiderin-containing macrophages and associated reactive changes were found to obstruct the otherwise well-formed cerebral aqueduct in all four. Coagulopathy due to thrombocytopenia was implicated in one case. Anomalies involving other parts of the body were identified in two cases, although a direct link to the hydrocephalus was not obvious. The abnormality was isolated in one case. In three cases, possible sites of hemorrhage in the ventricles were identified. This abnormality represents a significant proportion of the fetuses examined for hydrocephalus in our referral center. We discuss the importance of careful autopsy examination in the diagnosis of cryptic intracerebral hemorrhage and the implications for counseling.