Background: Deep nuclear gray matter injury in neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is associated with worse neurodevelopmental outcomes. We previously published a qualitative MRI injury scoring system utilizing serial T1-weighted, T2-weighted and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), weighted for deep nuclear gray matter injury. Objectives: To establish the validity of the MRI scoring system with neurodevelopmental outcome at 18-24 months. Materials and methods: MRI scans from neonates with moderate to severe HIE treated with therapeutic hypothermia were evaluated. Signal abnormality was scored on T1-weighted, T2-weighted and DWI sequences and assessed using an established system in five regions: (a) subcortical: caudate nucleus, globus pallidus and putamen, thalamus and the posterior limb of the internal capsule; (b) white matter; (c) cortex, (d) cerebellum and (e) brainstem. MRI injury was graded as none, mild, moderate or severe. Inter-rater reliability was tested on a subset of scans by two independent and blinded neuroradiologists. Surviving infants underwent the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-III (Bayley-III) at 18-24 months. Data were analyzed using univariate and multivariate linear and logistic regression. Results: Fifty-seven eligible neonates underwent at least one MRI scan in the first 2 weeks of life. Mean postnatal age at scan 1 was 4±2 days in 50/57 (88%) neonates and 48/54 (89%) surviving infants underwent scan 2 at 10±2 days. In 54/57 (95%) survivors, higher MRI injury grades were significantly associated with worse outcomes in the cognitive, motor and language domains of the Bayley-III. Conclusion: A qualitative MRI injury scoring system weighted for deep nuclear gray matter injury is a significant predictor of neurodevelopmental outcome at 18–24 months in neonates with HIE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1491-1499
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric radiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Brain
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neonates
  • Neurodevelopmental outcome
  • Scoring system


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