It was a big day. I was pregnant with our first baby and we had an ultrasound appointment scheduled in the afternoon. Today was the day that we would (hopefully) find out if we were having a boy or girl.
We had a late Friday afternoon appointment, something that I had scheduled purposely so my husband and I could celebrate with dinner and then go home. Once in the ultrasound room, we were so excited. We held hands as we watched our unborn baby on the monitor. As our baby moved, it seemed unbelievable how developed the tiny features were. It wasn’t always easy to tell what I was looking at but our technician was explaining what we were seeing on the screen.
When she got to the head, she began the measurements and then matter-of-factly said, “There are choroid plexus cysts in your baby’s brain.” That was the moment that I felt like my breathing stopped. “Cysts in your baby’s brain” was all that I heard. “What does that mean?” We both asked at the same time. “I can only give you the information,” was her answer. She mentioned that there were some conditions where choroid plexus cysts are present in an ultrasound (like Trisomy 18) but she suggested that we contact my doctor for questions. But it was Friday evening and the doctor’s office would not be open until Monday.
We went to dinner as planned, but my husband and I were mostly quiet as we ate our food. Not quite the celebration that we had planned on. We were both anxious to get home and get online to research what we were told. We found quickly that having the access to so much information was more harmful to us than helpful. We were searching and finding all kinds of heart wrenching information on Trisomy 18 and other conditions. I cried a lot that night and during the rest of the weekend, unsure of what this meant for our baby and our family.
And we told no one. We hid our frightening news from the excited friends and family that called to ask about the ultrasound results. Monday morning could not come soon enough. I called my doctor around 5:30 when I awoke and left a message. It was normal for his nurse to return my call when I left messages so I wondered the entire drive into work, when would I finally get to talk to her? I had just arrived to my office when my phone rang and my doctor was on the other end. Immediately I thought, this MUST be bad. Why else would HE call me back?
The answer that he gave me was a huge relief. He explained that the choroid plexus cysts in our baby were isolated and nothing that we needed to worry about. He had my ultrasound with him and saw nothing else that would indicate any abnormality. He reassured me that even his daughter had them present in an ultrasound and his wife was also very upset but he explained to her, just like he was now explaining to me, that they were nothing to worry about.
Here is a helpful explanation of choroid plexus cysts written by Jillian Lokere and found at www.babyzone.com.
“The choroid plexus is an area of the brain that is not involved thinking or personality. Rather, the choroid plexus makes a fluid that protects and nourishes the brain and spinal cord. When a fluid-filled space is seen in the choroid plexus during an ultrasound, it is called a choroid plexus cyst (CPC). "We don't know why, but between 1 and 3 percent of all fetuses will manifest a CPC at 16 to 24 weeks of pregnancy," says Dr. Roy A. Filly, a Professor of Radiology and of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Chief of the Section of Diagnostic Sonography at University of California, San Francisco. CPCs can be found either on one side of the brain (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral). They can vary in size and shape, from small and round to large and irregular. Some fetuses have more than one. Dr. Peter Doubilet, a Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, adds, "That's one very important fact. CPCs are not harmful, and they nearly always go away by the third trimester of pregnancy."
My doctor told me that he would order another, late term ultrasound to give us the peace of mind that they were gone.
He was right. In the ultrasound that followed our scary ultrasound, there were no longer choroid plexus cysts present in our baby’s brain. I share this story now because it has already helped couples, just like us that were panicking after their ultrasound. I also encourage pregnant women to schedule ultrasounds for times that they know that their doctor will be available for questions. In both my following pregnancies, I never scheduled another Friday afternoon ultrasound appointment.
I hope that by sharing this story, other parents will not have to go through the worry that we did over that long weekend. I am happy to say that our baby BOY was born healthy and perfect. It has now been 6 years and our son is still a healthy, growing, learning and perfectly normal kid. There is also much more information available online than there was when we needed it. Share this information. It only helps others.