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Disease Profile

Fetal cystic hygroma

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Cystic hygroma fetal; FCH; Nuchal bleb, familial


Congenital and Genetic Diseases


Fetal cystic hygroma is a congenital malformation of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that maintains fluids in the blood, as well as transports fats and immune system cells. Cystic hygromas are single or multiple cysts found mostly in the neck region. In the fetus, a cystic hygroma can progress to hydrops (an excess amount of fluid in the body) and eventually lead to fetal death. Some cases resolve leading to webbed neck, edema (swelling), and a lymphangioma (a benign yellowish-tan tumor on the skin composed of swollen lymph vessels). In other instances, the hygroma can progress in size to become larger than the fetus. Cystic hygromas can be classified as septated (multiloculated) or nonseptated (simple). Cystic hygromas can occur as an isolated finding or in association with other birth defects as part of a syndrome (chromosomal abnormalities or syndromes caused by gene mutations). They may result from environmental factors (maternal virus infection or alcohol abuse during pregnancy), genetic factors, or unknown factors. The majority of prenatally diagnosed cystic hygromas are associated with Turner syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities like trisomy 21. Isolated cystic hygroma can be inherited as an autosomal recessive disorder.[1][2] Fetal cystic hygroma have being treated with OK-432, a lyophilized mixture of Group A Streptococcus pyogenes and benzyl penicillin, and with serial thoracocentesis plus paracentesis.[2]


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
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Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Autosomal recessive inheritance
Fetal cystic hygroma
Hydrops fetalis

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These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

In-Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Fetal cystic hygroma. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


  1. Cystic Hygroma. Emory University School of Medicine. 2008; https://genetics.emory.edu/documents/resources/Emory_Human_Genetics_Cystic_Hygroma.PDF.
  2. Acevedo JL. Cystic Hygroma Treatment & Management. UpToDate. March 11, 2015; https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/994055-treatment#d6.
  3. Lu D, Wang Y, Zeng W & Peng B. Giant fetal lymphangioma at chest wall and prognosis: case report and literature review. Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol. February, 2015; 54(1):62-5. https://www.tjog-online.com/article/S1028-4559(14)00209-5/fulltext.