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Atretic Encephaloceles in Children Homepage

This page was last updated on May 9th, 2017



Juan F. Martínez-Lage, M.D.

Section Editors

Bermans J. Iskandar, M.D.

Graham Fieggen, M.D.

Senior Editor

Ann Ritter, M.D.

Editor In Chief

Rick Abbott, M.D.


An atretic encephalocele is a small midline lesion of the scalp and underlying tissues that is usually situated in the parietal or occipital regions. Atretic encephaloceles are composed of a fibrovascular stalk, neuroglial elements, and embryonic vessels. They are usually diagnosed during a routine neonatal examination and commonly have a rather innocent appearance. However, they often produce parental anxiety about their nature and prognosis. Surgical treatment of atretic encephaloceles is indicated for diagnosis, esthetics, or relief of pain.

Key Points

  • Scalp defect or lesion found on examination of neonate: Atretic encephaloceles are readily detected at the neonatal examination as small midline scalp nodules.
  • MRI helpful: MRI and magnetic resonance venography (MRV) usually confirm the diagnosis of atretic encephalocele.
  • Surgery must protect sagittal sinus: Surgery should be performed by neurosurgeons to avoid a potential injury to the adjacent sagittal sinus