Lissencephaly, which literally means "smooth brain," is a rare brain formation disorder characterized by the lack of normal convolutions (folds) in the brain, and an abnormally small head (microcephaly). It is caused by defective neuronal migration, the process in which nerve cells move from their place of origin to their permanent location. Symptoms of the disorder may include unusual facial appearance, difficulty swallowing, failure to thrive, and severe psychomotor retardation. Anomalies of the hands, fingers, or toes, muscle spasms, and seizures (convulsions) may also occur. Lissencephaly may be associated with other diseases including isolated lissencephaly sequence, Miller-Dieker syndrome, and Walker-Warburg syndrome.


The severe malformations of the brain in lissencephaly most likely will not respond to treatment. Normal supportive care may be needed to help with comfort and nursing needs. Seizures may be controlled with medication. Progressive hydrocephalus (an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain) may require shunting. If feeding becomes difficult, a gastrostomy tube may be considered.