The Frequency and Severity of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Abnormalities in Infants with Mild Neonatal Encephalopathy

Brian H. Walsh, Jeffrey Neil, Jo Ann Morey, Edward Yang, Michelle V. Silvera, Terrie E. Inder, Cynthia Ortinau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective To assess and contrast the incidence and severity of abnormalities on cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) between infants with mild, moderate, and severe neonatal encephalopathy who received therapeutic hypothermia. Study design This retrospective cohort studied infants with mild, moderate, and severe neonatal encephalopathy who received therapeutic hypothermia at a single tertiary neonatal intensive care unit between 2013 and 2015. Two neuroradiologists masked to the clinical condition evaluated brain MRIs for cerebral injury after therapeutic hypothermia using the Barkovich classification system. Additional abnormalities not included in this classification system were also noted. The rate, pattern, and severity of abnormalities/injury were compared across the grades of neonatal encephalopathy. Results Eighty-nine infants received therapeutic hypothermia and met study criteria, 48 with mild neonatal encephalopathy, 35 with moderate neonatal encephalopathy, and 6 with severe neonatal encephalopathy. Forty-eight infants (54%) had an abnormality on MRI. There was no difference in the rate of overall MRI abnormalities by grade of neonatal encephalopathy (mild neonatal encephalopathy 54%, moderate neonatal encephalopathy 54%, and severe neonatal encephalopathy 50%; P =.89). Basal ganglia/thalamic injury was more common in those with severe neonatal encephalopathy (mild neonatal encephalopathy 4%, moderate neonatal encephalopathy 9%, severe neonatal encephalopathy 34%; P =.03). In contrast, watershed injury did not differ between neonatal encephalopathy grades (mild neonatal encephalopathy 36%, moderate neonatal encephalopathy 32%, severe neonatal encephalopathy 50%; P =.3). Conclusion Mild neonatal encephalopathy is commonly associated with MRI abnormalities after therapeutic hypothermia. The grade of neonatal encephalopathy during the first hours of life may not discriminate adequately between infants with and without cerebral injury noted on MRI after therapeutic hypothermia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-33.e1
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Volume187
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • asphyxia
  • hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • mild encephalopathy
  • neonatal encephalopathy
  • therapeutic hypothermia

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