MR imaging assessment of myelination in the very preterm brain

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2002 May;23(5):872-81.


Background and purpose: MR imaging was performed in very preterm infants by using an MR imager in the neonatal intensive care unit. The aims of this study were to assess the development of myelination in the preterm brain based on MR imaging findings and to compare the ability of T1-weighted conventional spin-echo, inversion recovery fast spin-echo, and T2-weighted fast spin-echo MR imaging to show myelination in these infants.

Methods: MR imaging was performed for 26 preterm infants with a median gestational age of 28 weeks who had normal neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years corrected age.

Results: Myelin was evident in the gracile and cuneate nuclei and fasciculi, vestibular nuclei, cerebellar vermis, inferior and superior cerebellar peduncles, dentate nucleus, medial longitudinal fasciculus, medial geniculate bodies, subthalamic nuclei, inferior olivary nuclei, ventrolateral nuclei of the thalamus, decussation of the superior cerebellar peduncles, medial lemnisci, lateral lemnisci, and inferior colliculi at < or = 28 weeks gestational age. From this gestational age, myelination was not visualized at any new site until 36 weeks gestational age, when myelin was visualized in the corona radiata, posterior limb of the internal capsule, corticospinal tracts of the precentral and postcentral gyri, and lateral geniculate bodies. T2-weighted fast spin-echo MR imaging showed myelin in gray matter nuclei at an earlier gestational age than did T1-weighted conventional spin-echo or inversion recovery fast spin-echo MR imaging. T1-weighted conventional spin-echo MR imaging showed myelin earlier in some white matter tracts in the preterm brain.

Conclusion: Myelination was evident in numerous gray and white matter structures in the very preterm brain. A knowledge of myelination milestones will allow delays to be detected at an early stage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Myelin Sheath / ultrastructure*
  • Periaqueductal Gray / ultrastructure
  • Retrospective Studies