Hydrops fetalis

Hydrops fetalis is excessive extravasation of fluid into the third space in a fetus which could be due to heart failure, volume overload, decreased oncotic pressure, or increased vascular permeability. Hydrops is defined as the accumulation of fluid +/- edema involving at least two fetal components, which may manifest as:


The estimated incidence is at ~1 in 2000 births although this can significantly vary according to different regions.


It is considered a prenatal form of cardiac failure. It was traditionally divided into two broad groups:

  • immune hydrops fetalis (IHF)
  • non-immune hydrops fetalis (NIHF)
Immune hydrops

Accounts for a minority (~10%) of cases in present-day pregnancies , although historically accounted for a larger proportion of cases in the early to mid 20 century:

Non-immune hydrops

Accounts for a majority of cases and can arise from protean causes which include:

Radiographic features

Antenatal ultrasound

Sonographic features can be similar for both immune and non-immune hydrops and include:

Treatment and prognosis

The overall prognosis can be variable, dependent on the underlying cause.

History and etymology

The term hydrops fetalis comes from the Latin meaning edema of the fetus .

Siehe auch:
und weiter: