Encephalocele refers to a herniation of cranial contents through a defect in the skull, according to specialists at the University Center for Fetal Medicine. Encephaloceles are classified by their location: occipital or frontal.
It may be noticed on routine ultrasound. Fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should be performed to confirm diagnosis, study surrounding structures and rule out neural tube defect. Amniocentesis and genetic counseling are recommended. Pictured (right) is a MRI image that indicates an encephalocele.
There is no fetal intervention for encephalocele. Routine pregnancy care will continue throughout the pregnancy. Delivery should occur at an institution equipped to provide the multidisciplinary care that will be required by the neonate.
Treatment of the neonate will depend largely on the size and location of the encephalocele and presence of any associated anomalies. Surgery is required to repair the defect and prevent brain injury.