Multi-tiered analysis of brain injury in neonates with congenital heart disease

Pediatr Cardiol. 2013;34(8):1772-84. doi: 10.1007/s00246-013-0712-6. Epub 2013 May 8.


Early brain injury occurs in newborns with congenital heart disease (CHD) placing them at risk for impaired neurodevelopmental outcomes. Predictors for preoperative brain injury have not been well described in CHD newborns. This study aimed to analyze, retrospectively, brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a heterogeneous group of newborns who had CHD surgery during the first month of life using a detailed qualitative CHD MRI Injury Score, quantitative imaging assessments (regional apparent diffusion coefficient [ADC] values and brain volumes), and clinical characteristics. Seventy-three newborns who had CHD surgery at 8 ± 5 (mean ± SD) days of life and preoperative brain MRI were included; 38 also had postoperative MRI. Thirty-four (34 of 73, 47 %) had at least one type of preoperative brain injury, and 28 of 38 (74 %) had postoperative brain injury. The 5-min APGAR score was negatively associated with preoperative injury, but there was no difference between CHD types. Infants with intraparenchymal hemorrhage, deep gray matter injury, and/or watershed infarcts had the highest CHD MRI Injury Scores. ADC values and brain volumes were not different in infants with different CHD types or in those with and without brain injury. In a mixed group of CHD newborns, brain injury was found preoperatively on MRI in almost 50 %, and there were no significant baseline characteristic differences to predict this early brain injury except 5-min APGAR score. We conclude that all infants, regardless of CHD type, who require early surgery should be evaluated with MRI because they are all at high risk for brain injury.

MeSH terms

  • Arkansas / epidemiology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases / epidemiology
  • Brain Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors