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Quantification of ante-mortem hypoxic ischemic brain injury by post-mortem cerebral magnetic resonance imaging in neonatal encephalopathy

Quantification of ante-mortem hypoxic ischemic brain injury by post-mortem cerebral magnetic resonance imaging in neonatal encephalopathy

European Journal of Paediatric Neurology 19(6): 665-671

Post-mortem (PM) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is increasingly used as an alternative to conventional autopsy in babies dying from neonatal encephalopathy. However, the confounding effect of post-mortem changes on the detection of ante-mortem ischemic injury is unclear. We examined whether quantitative MR measurements can accurately distinguish ante-mortem ischemic brain injury from artifacts using post-mortem MRI. We compared PM brain MRI (1.5 T Siemens, Avanto) in 7 infants who died with neonatal encephalopathy (NE) of presumed hypoxic-ischemic origin with 7 newborn infants who had sudden unexplained neonatal death (SUND controls) without evidence of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury at autopsy. We measured apparent diffusion coefficients (ADCs), T1-weighted signal intensity ratios (SIRs) compared to vitreous humor and T2 relaxation times from 19 predefined brain areas typically involved in neonatal encephalopathy. There were no differences in mean ADC values, SIRs on T1-weighted images or T2 relaxation times in any of the 19 predefined brain areas between NE and SUND infants. All MRI images showed loss of cortical gray/white matter differentiation, loss of the normal high signal intensity (SI) in the posterior limb of the internal capsule on T1-weighted images, and high white matter SI on T2-weighted images. Normal post-mortem changes may be easily mistaken for ante-mortem ischemic injury, and current PM MRI quantitative assessment cannot reliably distinguish these. These findings may have important implications for appropriate interpretation of PM imaging findings, especially in medico-legal practice.

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Accession: 058672032

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PMID: 26235647

DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2015.07.006

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