At Boston Children’s Hospital, we’ve already helped many infants who have been diagnosed with fetal ventriculomegaly, a condition in which the fluid-filled spaces in the brain (ventricles) appear larger than normal on a prenatal ultrasound.

Here are the basics about ventriculomegaly:

  • It occurs in approximately one in 1,000 births.
  • Ventriculomegaly can be detected during the second trimester on a prenatal ultrasound.
  • Ventriculomegaly only needs to be treated if a child also has hydrocephalus, a term that describes the progressive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the ventricles leading to worsening ventriculomegaly (progressive enlargement of the ventricles) under pressure. Hydrocephalus has a number of different causes.
  • There is no single identifiable cause for ventriculomegaly, but sometimes enlarged ventricles are associated with decreased surrounding brain tissue from damage or abnormal development.

How Boston Children's approaches ventriculomegaly

Clinicians in the Neonatal and Congenital Anomaly Neurosurgery Program here at Boston Children’s specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of ventriculomegaly and other types of disorders relating to the brain and nervous system.

Typically, ventriculomegaly only requires treatment if it causes hydrocephalus. Since the excessive pressure caused by the buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in hydrocephalus can lead to serious, long-term neurological damage, prompt treatment is a must.

Boston Children's was the first hospital in the world to treat children with hydrocephalus by shunting. In the years since this important milestone, our physicians have helped design and test the next generation of shunting devices, introduced and refined the use of minimally invasive surgical alternatives to shunt placement, and taught these potentially life-saving techniques to pediatric neurosurgeons around the world.

Our approaches to treating ventriculomegaly and hydrocephalus are both patient-focused and family-centered. We never lose sight of the fact that your child is, first and foremost, an individual—not merely a patient—and we include your family at every stage of the treatment process.

Ventriculomegaly: Reviewed by Benjamin C. Warf, MD
© Boston Children’s Hospital; posted in 2012