Introduction: Reduced middle cerebral artery resistance indices (MCA-RI) in fetuses with spina bifida (fSB) are commonly observed. Compression of neuronal pathways in the brainstem due to hindbrain herniation (HH) and disturbed cerebrospinal fluid circulation likely cause an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system. This may increase systemic vasoconstriction and compensatory increase cerebral vasodilation (like brain sparing). The aim of this study was to systematically analyze all fetal MCA-RI before and after fSB repair and to compare their correlation with the presence and postsurgical resolution of HH. Methods: 173 patients were included. Standardized ultrasound examinations including MCA and umbilical artery (UA) Doppler as well as assessment of HH presence and regression were performed. Fetuses with MCA-RI <5th percentile (P) before fetal surgery were compared to the group with normal MCA-RI and correlated to the presence of HH before and its regression after fSB repair. Results: 30% (49/161) fetuses showed RI’s <5th P before fSB repair. All fetuses had normal UA-RI. 99.4% of fetuses (160/161) showed normal of MCA-RI before delivery. Normalization occurred within a mean of 1.3 ± 1.2 weeks. HH regression was observed in 97% in the group with normal MCA-RI and in 96% in the group with MCA-RI <5th P before surgery (p = 0.59). Time lapse to HH regression after fSB repair was 1.8 ± 1.7 and 1.9 ± 1.6 weeks, respectively. Conclusion: In fetuses with MCA-RIs <5 P before fSB repair, a parallel timely course of MCA-RI normalization and HH regression was noted. To suggest common pathogenic factor(s), more studies are needed. However, normalization of the fetal cerebral circulation could be a further benefit of fSB repair.

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