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Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2005 Oct;10(5):445-60.

Advanced MR techniques in the term-born neonate with perinatal brain injury.

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  • 1Robert Steiner MR Unit, Imaging Sciences Department, Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK. m.rutherford@ic.ac.uk


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become an essential tool for assessing the neonatal brain. Conventional imaging can detect patterns of injury that relate to the aetiology and timing of an insult and provide valuable information about prognosis. Sequences must always be adapted for the immature brain. Diffusion techniques improve the detection of ischaemic tissue and allow more accurate timing of an insult. Diffusion tensor imaging allows the assessment of tissue microstructure changes with normal development as well as in response to tissue injury. Diffusion tractography will further our understanding of the long-term effects of perinatal injuries on brain development, and when used in combination with clinical and functional imaging studies will allow the plasticity of the immature brain to be studied. MR angiography and venography are important adjuncts to the clinical examination, and when combined with perfusion studies can provide valuable information about vessel development following injury. Detailed vascular studies may detect inherent susceptibilities, which give rise to lesions in some babies but not others. The future for neonatal imaging is exciting; however, detailed and serial imaging of carefully chosen cohorts of infants coupled with long-term clinical follow-up are essential to ensure the clinical significance of any new findings.

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