Brain diffusivity in infants with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy following whole body hypothermia: preliminary results

J Child Neurol. 2011 Oct;26(10):1230-6. doi: 10.1177/0883073811402346. Epub 2011 May 18.


Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is an important cause of neuropsychological deficits. Little is known about brain diffusivity in these infants following cooling and its potential in predicting outcome. Diffusion tensor imaging was applied to 3 groups: (1) three infants with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy: cooled; (2) three infants with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy: noncooled; and (3) four controls. Diffusivity values at the corticospinal tract, thalamus, and putamen were correlated with Apgar scores and early neurodevelopmental outcome. While cooled infants exhibited lower Apgar scores than noncooled infants, their developmental scores at a mean age of 8 months were higher. All groups differed in their diffusivity values with the cooled infants showing better values compared with the noncooled, correlating with early neurodevelopmental outcome. These preliminary results indicate that diffusion tensor imaging performed at an early age in infants with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy may forecast clinical outcome and support the neuroprotective effect of hypothermia treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Apgar Score
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced / adverse effects
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / therapy*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Treatment Outcome