Cystic hygroma vs occipital meningocele

Last revised by Maulik S Patel on 2 Feb 2022

Cystic hygroma and occipital meningocele are both differential diagnosis for an antenatally detected cystic collection noted on the posterior aspect of the head and neck.

A simple differentiation can be made based on the contents and presence of septations:

  • cystic hygroma will present as a well-defined anechoic thin-walled cyst with multiple septations and a characteristic midline septum representing the nuchal ligament
  • an occipital meningocele¬†will appear as a well-defined anechoic area with no septations and is seen in direct continuity with a defect in the calvaria

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1 : occipital meningocele
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  • Case 2: occipital meningocele - antenatal ultrasound
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