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Fetal trauma: brain imaging in four neonates


The purpose of this paper is to describe brain pathology in neonates after major traffic trauma in utero during the third trimester. Our patient cohort consisted of four neonates born by emergency cesarean section after car accident in the third trimester of pregnancy. The median gestational age (n=4) was 36 weeks (range: 30–38). Immediate post-natal and follow-up brain imaging consisted of cranial ultrasound (n=4), computed tomography (CT) (n=1) and post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (n=1). Pathology findings were correlated with the imaging findings (n=3). Cranial ultrasound demonstrated a huge subarachnoidal hemorrhage (n=1), subdural hematoma (n=1), brain edema with inversion of the diastolic flow (n=1) and severe ischemic changes (n=1). In one case, CT demonstrated the presence and extension of the subarachnoidal hemorrhage, a parietal fracture and a limited intraventricular hemorrhage. Cerebellar hemorrhage and a small cerebral frontal contusion were seen on post-mortem MRI in a child with a major subarachnoidal hemorrhage on ultrasound. None of these four children survived (three children died within 2 days and one child died after 1 month). Blunt abdominal trauma during pregnancy can cause fetal cranial injury. In our cases, skull fracture, intracranial hemorrhage and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy were encountered.

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Correspondence to Luc Breysem.

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Breysem, L., Cossey, V., Mussen, E. et al. Fetal trauma: brain imaging in four neonates. Eur Radiol 14, 1609–1614 (2004).

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  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
  • Brain injury
  • Pregnancy
  • Ultrasonography
  • Trauma
  • Hemorrhage