Ultrasonographic differential diagnosis and neurodevelopmental outcome of cerebral white matter lesions in premature infants

J Perinatol. Jul-Aug 1999;19(5):330-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.jp.7200190.


Objective: To determine the clinical usefulness of recently published ultrasonographic criteria for the differential diagnosis of periventricular hemorrhagic venous infarction (PHVI) versus periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and its relevance to neurodevelopmental outcome.

Study design: From 1992 to 1995, we evaluated 998 very low birth weight infants of which 111 developed cerebral white matter lesions on cranial ultrasonogram examination. An attempt was made to differentiate the lesions into either PHVI or PVL using specific ultrasonographic criteria (Volpe JJ. Brain inury in the premature infant: is it preventable? Pediatr Res 1990; 6:S28-33). Seventy-six patients who survived to discharge constituted the study group. Survivors were followed prospectively with neurologic examinations, visual and auditory screening, and developmental testing.

Results: PHVI was diagnosed in 23 patients (30%), PVL in 36 (47%), characteristics of both PHVI and PVL (mixed lesions) in 8 (11%), and persistent periventricular echodensity without cystic change in 9 (12%). Two-year follow-up data were obtained on 57 of 76 (75%) patients. Neurodevelopmental deficits were common in all groups; however, infants with localized PHVI had a mean developmental quotient in the normal range.

Conclusion: The majority of white matter lesions (77%) can be differentiated as either PHVI or PVL by ultrasonographic criteria, with coexisting features in only 11% of patients. In addition to these lesions, persistent periventricular echodensity was also associated with a high risk of subsequent neurodevelopmental deficit. However, normal development was seen in a subgroup of patients with localized periventricular hemorrhagic venous infarction.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Infarction / complications
  • Brain Infarction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Infarction / etiology*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Child Development
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Leukomalacia, Periventricular / complications
  • Leukomalacia, Periventricular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Ultrasonography