Fetal abdominal cysts in the first trimester: prenatal detection and clinical significance

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In order to determine the clinical significance of fetal abdominal cysts detected in the first trimester, we reviewed our experience with such cases collected over a 5-year period.


Five cases in which a fetal abdominal cyst was detected by ultrasound in the first trimester were identified. Information on the ultrasound findings, antenatal course and perinatal outcome was obtained in all cases.


The abdominal cyst was confirmed by an early second-trimester scan at 14–16 weeks in all cases, at which time no associated anomalies were detected. The standard detailed second-trimester scan at 18–22 weeks demonstrated complete resolution in three cases. These women had an uneventful antenatal course, and normal newborn infants were delivered at term. However, one of these infants had intestinal malrotation, chronic abdominal distension and midgut volvulus requiring surgery at the age of 7 months. Among the remaining two cases in which the abdominal cyst persisted, one required prenatal aspiration at 19 weeks owing to significant enlargement and resolved. The other remained stable in size and was managed conservatively, but the infant required surgery at the age of 7 weeks owing to a choledochal cyst causing intermittent episodes of acholia.


Abdominal cysts in early pregnancy often resolve spontaneously or remain small and are usually associated with a good outcome. Nevertheless, as they can also be associated with serious underlying gastrointestinal pathological conditions, close surveillance in the perinatal period is advocated. Copyright © 2008 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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