An encephalocele is caused by incomplete closure of the cranial vault (cranium bifidum).
Encephaloceles usually occur in the midline and protrude anywhere along a line from the occiput to the nasal passages but can be present asymmetrically in the frontal or parietal regions.
Encephaloceles may also occur internally, eg, at the anterior pole of the temporal lobe, and may be discovered only later in life during evaluation for associated neurodevelopmental symptoms such as epilepsy.
About 50% of affected infants have other congenital anomalies. Hydrocephalus Hydrocephalus Hydrocephalus is accumulation of excessive amounts of cerebrospinal fluid, causing cerebral ventricular enlargement and/or increased intracranial pressure. Manifestations can include enlarged... read more often occurs with encephalocele.
Symptoms and Signs of Encephalocele
Symptoms and signs of encephalocele include the visible defect, seizures, and impaired cognition, including intellectual and developmental disability.
Diagnosis of Encephalocele
Diagnosis of encephalocele may be made by routine prenatal ultrasonography.
Small encephaloceles may resemble cephalohematomas, but x-rays show a bony skull defect at the base of the encephalocele.
Treatment of Encephalocele
Most encephaloceles can be repaired. Even large ones often contain mostly heterotopic nervous tissue, which can be removed without worsening functional ability.
When other serious physical malformations coexist, the decision to repair may be more difficult. Neurodevelopmental symptoms that result from an encephalocele often persist even after its surgical removal because the normal developmental sequence of brain structure and neural network formation was disrupted.
Prognosis for Encephalocele
Prognosis depends on the location and size of the lesion.