Isolated Absent Septum Pellucidum: A Retrospective Study of Fetal Diagnosis and Postnatal Outcomes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Pediatric neurology






Absent septum pellucidum; Fetal MRI; Neurodevelopment; Septo-optic dysplasia


BACKGROUND: Absent septum pellucidum (ASP) is a brain abnormality often associated with neuroanatomic abnormalities including septo-optic dysplasia (SOD). We aimed to determine how frequently prenatally diagnosed isolated ASP is confirmed by postnatal imaging and to examine clinical outcomes for ASP. METHODS: This was a retrospective study of maternal-fetal dyads referred to Children's National Hospital from January 1, 2012, to June 30, 2019. We included cases with fetal diagnosis of isolated or complex ASP. Diagnosis was based on ASP and the presence or absence of additional neuroanatomic findings. Data included obstetric and birth history, genetic testing, imaging, and neurodevelopmental outcomes. RESULTS: ASP was diagnosed in 35 fetuses. Of 17 fetuses with isolated ASP, 10 had postnatal evaluation. In five (50%) isolated ASP cases, postnatal imaging revealed additional brain abnormalities. The five children with postnatally confirmed isolated ASP had lower rates of hydrocephalus (0% vs 54%) and abnormal feeding (0% vs 20%), hearing (0% vs 14%), and vision (0% vs 14%) than those with complex ASP (n = 17). Children with isolated ASP had lower rates of developmental delay (33% vs 50%) and seizures (11% vs 30%) than children with complex ASP. One child with prenatal isolated ASP was diagnosed with SOD (10%). CONCLUSIONS: Few children with prenatally diagnosed isolated ASP had SOD diagnosed postnatally. Overall, children with isolated ASP demonstrate better outcomes than children with complex ASP. Fetal magnetic resonance imaging is a useful tool to evaluate the septum pellucidum and may reveal additional abnormalities that can impact prognosis and affect prenatal counseling.