What is the role of MRI in determining the prognosis 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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MRI is also a useful tool in the determination of prognosis. Studies indicate that infants with predominant injuries to the basal ganglia or thalamus (BGT) have an unfavorable neurologic outcome when compared with infants with a white matter predominant pattern of injury. Abnormal signals in the PLIC have also been associated with poor neurologic outcome. In one study, severe BGT lesions on early MRI (performed at a median of 10 d; range, 2-42 d) were strongly associated with motor impairment at 2 years. In addition, abnormal PLIC signal was also highly correlated with inability to walk independently at 2 years, with a sensitivity of 0.92 and a specificity of 0.77. [46]

In a study of MRIs at term-equivalent age from 3 cohorts of 325 very preterm infants, Kidokoro et al found 33% (n=107) had some grade of brain injury (eg, periventricular leukomalacia, intraventricular/cerebellar hemorrhage) and 10% (n=33) had severe brain injury. [47] The investigators noted severe brain injury and impaired growth patterns were independently associated with perinatal risk factors and delayed cognitive development. [47]

Both conventional images (T1- and T2-weighted) and diffusion techniques (DWI and ADC maps) have a good specificity (>90%) and positive predictive value (>85%) in predicting death or major disability at age 2 years. However, sensitivity and negative predictive values are low. [48]

MRI is also useful for follow-up. In any newly diagnosed case of cerebral palsy, MRI should be considered because it may help in establishing the cause. Note that the interpretation of MRI in infants requires considerable expertise.

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