Purpose: Hyperperfusion may be related to outcome in neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether arterial spin labelling (ASL) perfusion is associated with outcome in neonates with HIE and to compare the predictive value of ASL MRI to known MRI predictive markers.
Methods: Twenty-eight neonates diagnosed with HIE and assessed with MR imaging (conventional MRI, diffusion-weighted MRI, MR spectroscopy [MRS], and ASL MRI) were included. Perfusion in the basal ganglia and thalami was measured. Outcome at 9 or 18 months of age was scored as either adverse (death or cerebral palsy) or favourable.
Results: The median (range) perfusion in the basal ganglia and thalami (BGT) was 63 (28-108) ml/100 g/min in the neonates with adverse outcome and 28 (12-51) ml/100 g/min in the infants with favourable outcome (p < 0.01). The area-under-the-curve was 0.92 for ASL MRI, 0.97 for MRI score, 0.96 for Lac/NAA and 0.92 for ADC in the BGT. The combination of Lac/NAA and ASL MRI results was the best predictor of outcome (r(2) = 0.86, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Higher ASL perfusion values in neonates with HIE are associated with a worse neurodevelopmental outcome. A combination of the MRS and ASL MRI information is the best predictor of outcome.
Key points: • Arterial spin labelling MRI can predict outcome in neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy • Basal ganglia and thalami perfusion is higher in neonates with adverse outcome • Arterial spin labelling complements known MRI parameters in the prediction of outcome • The combined information of ASL and MRS measurements is the best predictor of outcome.