Prenatal brain MRI of fetuses with Zika virus infection



An outbreak of Zika virus was observed in French Polynesia in 2013–2014. Maternal Zika virus infection has been associated with fetal microcephaly and severe cerebral damage.


To analyze the MRI cerebral findings in fetuses with intrauterine Zika virus infection.

Materials and methods

We retrospectively analyzed prospectively collected data. Inclusion criteria comprised cases with (1) estimated conception date between June 2013 and May 2014, (2) available US and MRI scans revealing severe fetal brain lesions and (3) positive polymerase chain reaction for Zika virus in the amniotic fluid. We recorded pregnancy history of Zika virus infection and analyzed US and MRI scans.


Three out of 12 cases of severe cerebral lesions fulfilled all inclusion criteria. History of maternal Zika virus infection had been documented in two cases. Calcifications and ventriculomegaly were present at US in all cases. MRI showed micrencephaly (n = 3), low cerebellar biometry (n = 2), occipital subependymal pseudocysts (n = 2), polymicrogyria with laminar necrosis and opercular dysplasia (n = 3), absent (n = 1) or hypoplastic (n = 1) corpus callosum and hypoplastic brainstem (n = 1).


Severe cerebral damage was observed in our series, with indirect findings suggesting that the germinal matrix is the principal target for Zika virus. The lesions are very similar to severe forms of congenital cytomegalovirus and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infections.

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