Anencephaly is a designation for congenital absence of the cranial vault with cerebral hemispheres completely missing or decreased to small masses attached to the base of the skull. The etiology is unknown. Whether the bony tissue or soft brain tissue is a primary factor is also unknown. The present study has focused on the posterior cranial fossa in anencephaly. The goal is to determine whether differences in the posterior cranial fossa could provide a basis for subclassification of anencephalic fetal skeletons. Twenty-three human anencephalic fetuses, at gestational ages 13 to 22 weeks, were studied. Radiologic and cephalometric analyses, including measurements of bone sizes and different angles, were performed. Permission for autopsy of the central nervous system was not available. For
comparison of anencephalic findings with normal conditions, standards from a recent publication were used. Foot length served as a parameter for age comparison. The study showed 2 morphologic types of the posterior cranial fossa. One type had a fossa cranial morphology close to normal morphology, whereas the other had a malformed and much smaller posterior cranial fossa. The latter condition was presumed to be due to a primary error in chondral and cranial development. The current skeletal subgrouping might be
essential for clinicians’ or pathologists’ future assessment of the autopsy results. The skeletal subgrouping should, if possible, be associated with karyotyping and analysis of the central nervous system. The goal is to distinguish between congenital conditions resulting in anencephaly and acquired conditions resulting in anencephaly.
Lomholt J.F. et al. Subclassification of Anencephalic Human Fetuses According to Morphology of the Posterior Cranial Fossa. Pediatric and Developmental Pathology 7, 601–606, 2004 DOI: 10.1007/s10024-004-9098-z