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Radiology. 2006 Jun;239(3):839-48. Epub 2006 Apr 26.

Term neonate prognoses after perinatal asphyxia: contributions of MR imaging, MR spectroscopy, relaxation times, and apparent diffusion coefficients.

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Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Founders House 216, 55 Fruit St, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



To retrospectively evaluate magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, hydrogen 1 (1H) MR spectroscopy, apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), T1, and T2 measurements for prediction of late neurologic outcome in term neonates after severe perinatal asphyxia.


This study was approved by the local ethics committee. Informed consent from parents was not required. Thirty term neonates (12 boys, 18 girls; age range, 2-12 days) with severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy were examined during the first 12 days of life with conventional and diffusion-weighted cerebral MR imaging, 1H MR spectroscopy with absolute quantification, and T1 and T2 measurements. Quantitative 1H MR spectroscopy, T1, and T2 data were acquired on one 10-mm slab positioned at the level of the basal ganglia. The neonates were assigned to one of two groups according to their late (>12-month follow-up) neurologic outcome: those with an unfavorable outcome-that is, death or severe disability-and those with a favorable outcome. Clinical data, MR signal intensity abnormalities, ADCs, 1H MR spectroscopy findings, and relaxation times were compared by using Chi2 testing and analysis of variance to individualize the prognostic indicators.


The unfavorable (n=16) and favorable (n=14) outcome groups were similar in terms of clinical data (ie, Apgar scores, visceral hypoxic injuries), visualization of brain edema on MR images, and T1 and T2 relaxation times. Late unfavorable neurologic outcome was associated with a mixed pattern of cortical and basal ganglia signal intensity abnormalities on MR images (13 babies with unfavorable vs three babies with favorable outcomes, P=.001) and with decreased absolute N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and choline concentrations in all brain structures, especially the basal ganglia (mean NAA concentration: 2.72 mmol/L in unfavorable outcome group vs 4.66 mmol/L in favorable outcome group, P<5x10(-9)), as measured with MR spectroscopy. In the basal ganglia, an NAA concentration lower than 4 mmol/L indicated an unfavorable individual prognosis with 94% sensitivity and 93% specificity. Significantly reduced ADCs also were noted in the unfavorable outcome group, but only during the first 6 days of life.


Conventional MR imaging findings, spectroscopically measured absolute NAA and choline concentrations, and ADCs are complementary tools for predicting the individual outcomes of severely asphyxiated term neonates.

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