Neuroimaging appearance of hypothalamic hamartomas in monozygotic twins with Pallister-Hall syndrome: case report and review of the literature

Alessandra Consales, Giulia Ardemani, Claudia Maria Cinnante, Mariana Rita Catalano, Claudia Giavoli, Roberta Villa, Maria Iascone, Camilla Fontana, Maria Francesca Bedeschi, Monica Fumagalli

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Background: Pallister-Hall syndrome (OMIM #146510) is a rare autosomal dominant condition caused by a mutation in the GLI3 gene. The cardinal feature of Pallister-Hall syndrome is the presence of hypothalamic hamartomas, which may manifest with seizures, panhypopituitarism and visual impairment. In Pallister-Hall syndrome, dysplastic histogenetic processes responsible for hypothalamic hamartomas are thought to disrupt early craniofacial development. The clinical presentation of Pallister-Hall syndrome may include: characteristic facies (low-set and posteriorly angulated ears, short nose with flat nasal bridge), cleft palate and uvula, bifid epiglottis and laryngotracheal cleft, limb anomalies (e.g., polysyndactyly, short limbs and nail dysplasia), anal atresia, genitourinary abnormalities and congenital heart defects. Case presentation: We report the case of two monochorionic diamniotic twins diagnosed with Pallister-Hall syndrome during the neonatal period, after the identification of a hypothalamic hamartoma on day 1 by cerebral ultrasound scan, later confirmed by brain magnetic resonance imaging. Cerebral ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging presentations were identical in both twins. Discussion and conclusions: We review previously published cases (four reports) of hypothalamic hamartomas identified via cerebral ultrasound and compare reported ultrasonographic features. Main differential diagnoses based on cerebral ultrasound findings are discussed. Full description of typical magnetic resonance imaging appearance is also provided. This is the first case reported in the literature of monochorionic diamniotic twins affected by genetically confirmed Pallister-Hall syndrome with identical hypothalamic hamartomas at cerebral ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging. Moreover, this paper adds to the existing literature on the sonographic appearance of hypothalamic hamartomas. Considering the consistency in hypothalamic hamartomas’ sonographic appearance, we support the use of cerebral ultrasound as a first-line neuroimaging modality in case of clinical suspicion of Pallister-Hall syndrome. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number118
JournalBMC Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • brain MRI
  • cerebral ultrasound
  • Hypothalamic hamartoma
  • Pallister-Hall syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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