Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is a condition that can affect babies with a very low birth weight (VLBW). The degree of bleeding can be divided into four grades by increasing in size and severity:
The blood vessels in the premature brain are fragile and are prone to bleeding into the ventricular spaces, and if more severe, into the brain tissue itself. The more immature or the more unstable the baby's clinical condition is during the first few days, the higher the chances of bleeding.
Babies who have mild bleeds usually do not show any signs, and the bleed will therefore only be diagnosed during routine screening through ultrasound scans. Babies who develop severe bleeds may occasionally be unwell, with changes in their breathing pattern, blood pressure and behaviour.
Diagnosis is made using an ultrasound. The ultrasound probe is placed on the soft part of the skull called the anterior fontanelle. Routine ultrasound scans are performed for all babies born below 1,500g several times during the baby's stay.
No specific treatment is available for most cases of bleeding. In severe cases, the blood in the ventricles may obstruct the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (brain fluid) and lead to hydrocephalus (dilation of the ventricles). This may require drainage and removal by our doctors.