Purpose: The aim of this study was to correlate hypoxic-ischemic white matter damage on neonatal MRI with MRI appearance and neurological outcome at the age of 1 1/2 years.
Patients and methods: A sequential cohort of infants with periventricular densities on neonatal ultrasound was studied with neonatal MRI. Images of 46 infants with a mean gestational age of 31 weeks were obtained at a mean age of 20 days after birth and at 1 1/2 years. To establish agreement between the neonatal and follow-up MRI (general, motor, and visual scores), the weighted Cohen's kappa test was used. To establish the predictive power of neonatal MRI with respect to the neurologic indices at the age of 1 1/2 years, the sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values were calculated.
Results: There was a moderately good to good agreement between the general, motor, and visual neonatal and follow-up MRI scores: weighted kappa = 0.59 (95% CI: 0.44 - 0.74), 0.82 (95% CI: 0.72 - 0.93), and 0.70 (95% CI: 0.56 - 0.84), respectively. Neonatal MRI scores provided a good prediction of the three neurological outcome measures (developmental delay, cerebral palsy, and cerebral visual impairment): sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were high, with little difference between the three MRI scores. The 32 patients with (nearly) normal neonatal MRI scores were neurologically (nearly) normal at 1 1/2 years on all three outcome measures, whereas 8 patients with seriously abnormal neonatal MRI scores were neurologically abnormal at 1 1/2 years on all three outcome measures.
Conclusion: Neonatal MRI is able to predict the precise localization and size of perinatal leukomalacia on follow-up MRI and provides a good prediction of neurological outcome at 1 1/2 years.