Pictures of brain parts

This baby was born with a normal-size head. But MRI scans show the brain is filled with fluid and little brain tissue. The cortex of the brain is normally folded, but in this case, the cortex is smooth. Courtesy of the Radiological Society of North America hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the Radiological Society of North America

This baby was born with a normal-size head. But MRI scans show the brain is filled with fluid and little brain tissue. The cortex of the brain is normally folded, but in this case, the cortex is smooth.

Courtesy of the Radiological Society of North America

A series of medical images published Tuesday offer the most complete picture, so far, of how the Zika virus can damage the brain of a fetus.

"The images show the worst brain infections that doctors will ever see, " says Dr. Deborah Levine, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, who contributed to the study. "Zika is such a severe infection [in fetuses]. Most doctors will have never seen brains like this before."

The images — in the journal Radiology — are part of a special report put together by neurologists in Boston and doctors in northeastern Brazil who care for babies with Zika infections.

"Our goal is to illustrate for heath care professionals around the world what they could expect to see with a Zika infection during pregnancy, " Levine says.

How Big, Really, Is The Zika Outbreak In Florida?Many research studies and news stories have focused on microcephaly — a condition in which babies are born with very small heads, Levine says. But that defect is just the tip of iceberg of what Zika does to a fetus's brain. "We've illustrated some of those other problems in the study, " she says.

Zika infections during gestation can damage other parts of the body besides the brain. In this case, the baby was born with severe stiffness in the joints, which keeps the baby from straightening arms and legs normally. The baby's brain shows the telltale sign of an infection: white dots called calcification. Courtesy of the Radiological Society of North America hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the Radiological Society of North America

Zika infections during gestation can damage other parts of the body besides the brain. In this case, the baby was born with severe stiffness in the joints, which keeps the baby from straightening arms and legs normally. The baby's brain shows the telltale sign of an infection: white dots called calcification.

Courtesy of the Radiological Society of North America

For example, one baby in the study was born with a normal-size head. "But when you look inside the brain, " Levine says, "there's very little brain tissue present."

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