What findings on MRI are characteristic of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)?

Updated: Jul 18, 2018
  • Author: Santina A Zanelli, MD; Chief Editor: Dharmendra J Nimavat, MD, FAAP  more...
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Following a severe asphyxial event, a central pattern of injury is seen with injury to (1) the deep gray matter (ie, putamina, ventrolateral thalamus, hippocampi, dorsal brainstem, or lateral geniculate nucleus) and (2) the perirolandic cortex. These areas contain the highest concentration of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors and are actively myelinating.

Less severe or partial insult results in injury to the intervascular boundaries areas and is also called watershed injury. This type of lesions manifests in the infants as proximal extremity weakness or spasticity.

Decreased signal in the posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) on T1w images may be noted. The absence of normal signal (high intensity on T1w images) in the PLIC of infants older than 38 weeks' gestation is a strong predictor of abnormal motor outcomes in these infants. [45]

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