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Pediatr Neurol. 2009 Mar;40(3):181-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2008.09.012.

Advanced neuroimaging techniques for the term newborn with encephalopathy.

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Department of Pediatrics, British Columbia Children's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada.


Neonatal encephalopathy is associated with a high risk of morbidity and mortality in the neonatal period and of long-term neurodevelopmental disability in survivors. Advanced magnetic resonance techniques now play a major role in the clinical care of newborns with encephalopathy and in research addressing this important condition. From conventional magnetic resonance imaging, typical patterns of injury have been defined in neonatal encephalopathy. When applied in contemporary cohorts of newborns with encephalopathy, the patterns of brain injury on magnetic resonance imaging distinguish risk factors, clinical presentation, and risk of abnormal outcome. Advanced magnetic resonance techniques such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy, diffusion-weighted imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging provide novel perspectives on neonatal brain metabolism, microstructure, and connectivity. With the application of these imaging tools, it is increasingly apparent that brain injury commonly occurs at or near the time of birth and evolves over the first weeks of life. These observations have complemented findings from trials of emerging strategies of brain protection, such as hypothermia. Application of these advanced magnetic resonance techniques may enable the earliest possible identification of newborns at risk of neurodevelopmental impairment, thereby ensuring appropriate follow-up with rehabilitation and psychoeducational resources.

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