Aims: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is accepted as the gold standard for the diagnosis of arterial cerebral infarction (ACI), but few studies have reported the incidence of neonatal ACI based on MRI findings. We provide new population-based epidemiologic and diagnostic data on all infants diagnosed between 1997 and 2002 in our center with an MRI-confirmed diagnosis of unilateral neonatal ACI.
Results: Nine patients were identified, giving an incidence of 1:2300 unilateral ACIs in our inborn population. In all patients the middle cerebral artery was affected. Seven patients showed epileptic seizures, usually starting within the first 3 days of life. EEG was pathologic in all patients. Only three infarctions were diagnosed by ultrasound. Initial MRI established diagnosis of ACI in eight out of nine patients and subsequent MRI described the exact location of infarctions in all patients. Six out of nine patients developed hemiparesis and five had deficits in language development. There is a substantial need for special care facilities and long-term therapeutic interventions.
Conclusions: The incidence of neonatal ACI is higher than previously reported. The sensitivity of early cerebral ultrasound for diagnosis of ACI is low. Seizures in the first 3 days of life combined with pathologic EEG findings should lead to MRI, regardless of normal cerebral ultrasound.