Prognostic significance of an antenatal magnetic resonance imaging staging system on airway outcomes of fetal craniofacial venolymphatic malformations

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Background: The aim of the article was to determine if anatomical findings on fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of venolymphatic malformations of the face and neck (VLMFN) can be used to create a staging system predictive of airway outcomes. Methods: We reviewed 13 fetuses evaluated for VLMFN. Stage was assigned based on anatomical findings on fetal MRI. Stage I: no evidence of polyhydramnios with free egress of amniotic fluid and clear visualization of the aryepiglottic folds and larynx. Stage II: lesions of the tongue or epiglottis but with normal aryepiglottic folds without polyhydramnios. Stage III: lesions of the tongue or larynx; nonvisualization of the aryepiglottic folds without free egress of amniotic fluid along with polyhydramnios. Results: Six met stage I criteria with no airway involvement, nor any subsequent issues. Two met stage II criteria and were managed by ex-utero intrapartum therapy and intubated. One had minimal involvement of the upper airway, was extubated, and had no subsequent issues. Child two had involvement of the tongue and larynx and received a tracheostomy. Five were assigned stage III, delivered by ex-utero intrapartum therapy and intubated. Postnatal evaluation showed involvement of the upper airway by the lesion and was managed with tracheostomy. All treated by tracheostomy remain cannulated because of persistent symptomatic lesions at follow-up (relative risk 4.0; confidence interval 1.2-13.3). Median follow-up was 4 y (range 2-7 y). Conclusions: Although numbers are small, data suggest anatomical details obtained by antenatal fetal MRI appear to correlate with airway outcomes in children affected by a VLMFN. This information may be useful when counseling expectant families of affected fetuses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 8 2017



  • EXIT procedure
  • Fetal MRI
  • Staging system
  • Venolymphatic malformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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