Indian Journal of Radiology Indian Journal of Radiology  

   Login   | Users online: 913

Home Bookmark this page Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font size Increase font size     


OBSETRIC IMAGING Table of Contents   
Year : 2009  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 248-251
Sonological appearance of idiopathic arterial calcification in fetus: A rare case

Department of Radio Diagnosis, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bangalore, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication4-Aug-2009


Idiopathic arterial calcification (IAC) is a rare disease characterized by extensive arterial wall calcification. This condition is almost always fatal. A total of 162 cases have been reported to date, with most cases diagnosed postnatally and less than 13 cases having been suspected antenatally. This case report describes a case of IAC detected antenatally with USG at 28 weeks' gestation.

Keywords: Echogenic aorta; fetal hydrops; idiopathic arterial calcification

How to cite this article:
Nagaraj B R, Jain P, Thomas DA, Raghu M. Sonological appearance of idiopathic arterial calcification in fetus: A rare case. Indian J Radiol Imaging 2009;19:248-51

How to cite this URL:
Nagaraj B R, Jain P, Thomas DA, Raghu M. Sonological appearance of idiopathic arterial calcification in fetus: A rare case. Indian J Radiol Imaging [serial online] 2009 [cited 2021 Jan 28];19:248-51. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Idiopathic arterial calcification (IAC) is a rare cause of arterial calcification [1] and results in death in early life. Idiopathic arterial calcification presents with varied clinical symptoms in infancy and childhood. [2] Death is due to refractory hypertension and cardiac failure. [3] A total of 162 cases [4],[5] have been reported in the literature, with most cases diagnosed postnatally by autopsy and less than 13 cases [6] detected antenatally.

USG is a sensitive and accepted method for the prenatal detection of IAC. [7]

   Case Report Top

An unbooked, 25-year-old, consanguineously married woman with 7 months' amenorrhea was referred for routine obstetric USG. Her parity index was gravida 3, para 2, living 1 and dead 1. Her first child was healthy and the second baby had died 1 week after birth; the cause of neonatal death was not known. Her hemoglobin was 9 gm/100 ml; she was Rh positive. The TORCH test was negative. Maternal serum calcium, phosphorus and alkaline phosphatase levels were within normal limits.

Antenatal USG (Logiq 200, Wipro GE, Bangalore, India) revealed a single live fetus in cephalic presentation at 28 weeks of gestation. Important findings included severe polyhydramnios (amniotic fluid index: 34) [Figure 1], a highly echogenic aortic wall [Figure 2], echogenic cardiac outflow tracts [Figure 3], pericardial effusion, a large atrial septal defect, giving the appearance of a single atrium, bilateral pleural effusion, ascites, subcutaneous edema and echogenic kidneys. The rest of the organs appeared normal. Early grade III maturity of the placenta was noted. On the basis of the gray-scale findings, a diagnosis of IAC was made and fetal echo and follow-up scan were suggested. Follow-up scan after 1 week showed intrauterine fetal demise. The dead fetus was delivered vaginally. Radiographic examination confirmed aortic calcification [Figure 4]. Autopsy of the fetus confirmed the other findings such as fetal hydrops, thickened cord-like aorta [Figure 5] A, B and large atrial septal defect. Histopathological examination showed calcification of the tunica intima and media. Sections from the kidneys, spleen, liver and thymus showed calcific deposits and parenchymal psammoma bodies.

   Discussion Top

Idiopathic arterial calcification was first reported in 1901 by Bryant and White. [8] Until now, 162 cases have been reported. The exact etiology of IAC is not known. An autosomal recessive inheritance pattern has been described. Recently, a genetic etiology was postulated: a homozygous or compound heterozygous nonsense mutation for the ecto-nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase 1 ( ENPP1 ) gene on chromosome 6q. [9] The ENPP1 gene regulates extracellular inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi) level, and PPi regulates the matrix calcification. Thus, the ENPP1 mutation results in extracellular matrix calcification. [10] Histologically, this is evident as intimal fibrous proliferation and calcium hydroxyapatite deposition in the intimal elastic lamina of the arteries. [4],[11] Extensive arterial calcification results in refractory hypertension and cardiac failure, and involvement of the coronary arteries causes myocardial ischemia. [3],[4],[5] In the antenatal period, IAC presents with polyhydramnios, fetal hydrops or still birth. Most cases are diagnosed in infancy and, therefore, in some published reviews the condition is referred to as idiopathic arterial calcification (IAC) of infancy. [2] Due to its rarity, the varied clinical presentation, and the rapid clinical worsening, most cases are diagnosed only at autopsy. [4],[12] Very few cases have been diagnosed antenatally on the basis of USG findings.

Common findings described on antenatal USG include echogenic aorta and outflow tracts, polyhydramnios, pericardial effusion and hydrops. Of these, echogenic aorta and outflow tracts are consistently seen [Table 1]. Our case showed all the above findings and, in addition, there were pleural effusions, ascites, edematous skin/subcutaneous tissue and a large atrial septal defect. All antenatally detected cases in the literature have been reported in the late second and thirdth trimesters, with the earliest detected case being at 26 weeks; our case was detected at 28 weeks of gestation [Table 1].

In this case, the parents were consanguineously married; the first child was normal and the second child had died during the early neonatal period. This history supports a genetic etiology. Confirmation of the USG findings was done by radiographic and postmortem examination.

Antenatal diagnosis of IAC can be made in the presence of an echogenic aorta, echogenic outflow tracts, polyhydramnios, pericardial effusion and fetal hydrops. A family history of IAC or polyhydramnios, with a previous perinatal death, should prompt antenatal screening for IAC; early detection of cases helps in counseling of the parents. An echocardiogram and genetic screening for ENPP1 mutation may be indicated in suspected cases. [4]

Until recently, IAC was considered a fatal condition. However, in a recent report, postnatal therapy with nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates such as low-dose disodium pamidronate, has shown rapid resolution of the arterial calcifications and better survival of the affected patients. [18]

   Acknowledgments Top

Prof. H. Satishchandra, Prof. G Gurushanakar, Prof R K Saroja, Radiology postgraduates, BMCRI and the Department of Pathology BMCRI.

   References Top

1.Bird T. Idiopathic arterial calcification in infancy. Arch Dis Child 1974;49:82-9.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
2.Rosenbaum DM, Blumhagen JD. Sonographic recognition of idiopathic arterial calcification of infancy. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1986;146:249-50.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
3.Eronen M, Pohjavuori M, Heikkila P. Fatal outcome of 2 siblings with idiopathic arterial calcification of infancy diagnosed in utero. Pediatr Cardiol 2001;22:167-9.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Glatz AC, Pawel BR, Hsu DT, Weinberg P, Chrisant MR. Idiopathic infantile arterial calcification: Two case reports, a review of the literature and a role for cardiac transplantation. Pediatr Transplant 2006;10:225-33.  Back to cited text no. 4  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
5.Chong C, Hutchins G. Idiopathic Infantile Arterial Calcification: The Spectrum of Clinical Presentations. Pediatr Dev Pathol 2007 Aug 23:1.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Nagar AM, Hanchate V, Tandon A, Thakkar H, Chaubal NG. Antenatal Detection of Idiopathic Arterial Calcification With Hydrops Fetalis. J Ultrasound Med 2003;22: 653-9.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7. Bellah RD, Zawodniak L, Librizzi RJ, Harris MC. Idiopathic arterial calcification of infancy: prenatal and postnatal effects of therapy in an infant. J Pediatr 1992;121:930-3.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Bryant JH, White WA. A case of calcification of the arteries and obliterative endarteritis associated with hydronephrosis in a child aged 6 months. Guys Hosp Rep 1901;55:17-28.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Rutsch F, Ruf N, Vaingankar S, Toliat MR, Suk A, Hφhne W, et al . Mutations in ENPP1 are associated with 'idiopathic' infantile arterial calcification: Nat Genet 2003;34:379-81.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Numakura C, Yamada M, Ariyasu D, Maesaka A, Kobayashi H, Nishimura G, et al . Genetic and enzymatic analysis for two Japanese patients with idiopathic infantile arterial calcification. J Bone Miner Metab 2006;24:48-52.  Back to cited text no. 10  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
11.Pashankar D, Moore L. Test and teach. Number eighty three: Part 1. Idiopathic arterial calcification of infancy. Pathology 1997;29:175,217.   Back to cited text no. 11    
12.Saigal G, Azouz EM The spectrum of radiologic findings in idiopathic arterial calcification of infancy: pictorial essay. Can Assoc Radiol J 2004;55:102-7  Back to cited text no. 12    
13.Stuart G, Wren C, Bain H. Idiopathic infantile arterial calcification in two siblings: failure of treatment with diphosphonate. Br Heart J 1990;64:156-9.  Back to cited text no. 13  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
14.Spear R, Mack LA, Benedetti TJ, Cole RE. Idiopathic infantile arterial calcification: in utero diagnosis. J Ultrasound Med 1990;9:473-6.  Back to cited text no. 14  [PUBMED]  
15.Samon LM, Ash KM, Murdison KA. Aorto-pulmonary calcification: an unusual manifestation of idiopathic calcification of infancy evident antenatally. Obstet Gynecol 1995;85:863-5.  Back to cited text no. 15  [PUBMED]  
16.Levine JC, Campbell J, Nadel A. Prenatal diagnosis of idiopathic infantile arterial calcification. Circulation 2001;103:325-6.  Back to cited text no. 16  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
17.Ciana G, Trappan A, Bembi B, Benettoni A, Maso G, Zennaro F, et al . Generalized arterial calcification of infancy: Two siblings with prolonged survival. Eur J Pediatr 2006;165:258-63.  Back to cited text no. 17  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
18.Ramjan KA, Roscioli T, Rutsch F, Sillence D, Munns CF. Generalized arterial calcification of infancy: Treatment with bisphosphonates. Nat Clin Pract Endocrinol Metab 2009;5:167-72.  Back to cited text no. 18  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]

Correspondence Address:
M Raghu
Room No 39, BMC PG Hostel for Men, Near Royan Circle, 1st Main Road, Chamarajpet, Bangalore - 560 018
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-3026.54876

Rights and Permissions


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5]

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Antenatal diagnosis of idiopathic arterial calcification: a systematic review with a report of two cases
Salvatore Andrea Mastrolia,Adi Yekuda Weintraub,Joel Baron,Yael Sciaky-Tamir,Arie Koifman,Giuseppe Loverro,Reli Hershkovitz
Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics. 2014;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Case Report
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded407    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal