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Rady Children's Specialists


Encephaloceles are conditions where the underlying brain, with its covering, protrudes through a defect in the skull. This usually occurs in the midline of the skull, in the area between the forehead and nose or in the back of the skull. Usually encephaloceles are dramatic and diagnosed immediately after birth. Occasionally, a small encephalocele in the nasal and forehead region will go undetected for a while. Diagnosis can be confirmed with a CT scan.

Characteristics of encephaloceles include:

  • Midline bone defect in front or back of head
  • Soft and compressible swelling
  • Pulsation of herniated tissue
  • Increase in size while straining

Treatment consists of placing the herniated brain back inside the cranium, repairing the meninges or brain covering, and reconstructing the bony defect in the skull. For optimal outcome, this surgery is carried out by an experienced team with a pediatric craniofacial plastic surgeon and a pediatric neurosurgeon.