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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2013 Nov;55 Suppl 4:23-6. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12302.

Reorganization of visual fields after periventricular haemorrhagic infarction: potentials and limitations.

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Department of Developmental Neuroscience, Stella Maris Scientific Institute, Pisa, Italy.


Visual functions are often impaired in preterm infants with periventricular haemorrhagic infarction, because of the involvement of the region where the optic radiations are located. In some cases an unexpected sparing of the visual fields has been described, and related to the plasticity of thalamo-cortical afferents that are supposedly able to bypass the lesion when it occurs in the early third trimester of gestation. We systematically reviewed the literature in the field to determine the limits and potentials of this type of reorganization. We found four studies meeting our criteria, from which we extracted case reports on 19 individuals with intraventricular haemorrhagic infarction. Eleven of the 19 did not have visual field defects, five had a bilateral visual field defect, and the remaining three had a unilateral visual field defect. The involvement of the optic radiations was often associated with normal visual fields as only one of the four individuals with damaged optic radiations showed visual field defects. Conversely, the presence of basal ganglia/thalamus involvement apparently prevented such reorganization, as the only two individuals with unilateral field restriction and available magnetic resonance imaging data both showed abnormalities in those structures. Consistent with this, we report on a further individual in which visual field restriction was associated with abnormal tractography on brain magnetic resonance imaging. Overall, this review supports the existence of effective mechanisms of plastic reorganization that allow a rewiring of geniculo-calcarine connections with restoration of full field vision but which are hindered by the involvement of the basal ganglia and thalamus.

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