Fetal megacystis: prediction of spontaneous resolution and outcome

F. Fontanella*, L. Duin, P. N. Adama van Scheltema, T. E. Cohen-Overbeek, E. Pajkrt, M. Bekker, C. Willekes, C. J. Bax, C. M. Bilardo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To investigate the natural history of fetal megacystis from diagnosis in utero to postnatal outcome, and to identify prognostic indicators of spontaneous resolution and postnatal outcome after resolution.

METHODS: This was a national retrospective cohort study. Fetal megacystis was defined in the first trimester as a longitudinal bladder diameter (LBD) ≥ 7 mm, and in the second and third trimesters as an enlarged bladder failing to empty during the entire extended ultrasound examination. LBD and gestational age (GA) at resolution were investigated with respect to likelihood of resolution and postnatal outcome, respectively. Sensitivity, specificity and area under the receiver-operating characteristics curve (AUC) were calculated.

RESULTS: In total, 284 cases of fetal megacystis (93 early megacystis, identified before the 18 th week, and 191 late megacystis, identified at or after the 18 th week) were available for analysis. Spontaneous resolution occurred before birth in 58 (20%) cases. In cases with early megacystis, LBD was predictive of the likelihood of spontaneous resolution (sensitivity, 80%; specificity, 79%; AUC, 0.84), and, in the whole population, GA at regression was predictive of postnatal outcome, with an optimal cut-off at 23 weeks (sensitivity, 100%; specificity, 82%; AUC, 0.91). In the group with early megacystis, the outcome was invariably good when resolution occurred before the 23 rd week of gestation, whereas urological sequelae requiring postnatal surgery were diagnosed in 3/8 (38%) cases with resolution after 23 weeks. In the group with late megacystis, spontaneous resolution was associated with urological complications after birth, ranging from mild postnatal hydronephrosis in infants with resolution before 23 weeks, to more severe urological anomalies requiring postnatal surgery in those with resolution later in pregnancy. This supports the hypothesis that an early resolution of megacystis is often related to a paraphysiological bladder enlargement that resolves early in pregnancy without consequences, while antenatal resolution occurring later in pregnancy (after the 23 rd week of gestation) should suggest a pathological condition with urological sequelae.

CONCLUSIONS: In fetal megacystis, LBD and GA at regression can be used as predictors of resolution and outcome, respectively. These parameters could help in fine-tuning the prognosis and optimizing the frequency of follow-up scans. Copyright © 2017 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-463
Number of pages6
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • lower urinary tract obstruction
  • megacystis
  • prenatal diagnosis
  • pyelectasis


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