Purpose: To provide consensus-based, suggested imaging protocols to facilitate the accurate and timely diagnosis of a neonate with symptoms concerning for stroke.
Methods: The Writing Group, an international collaboration of pediatric neurologists and neuroradiologists with expertise in perinatal and childhood stroke, participated in a series of pediatric stroke neuroimaging symposia. These discussions, in conjunction with extensive literature review, led to a consensus for imaging protocols to guide practitioners in the diagnosis of neonatal stroke subtypes as defined by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Common Data Elements. The epidemiology, clinical presentation, and associated risk factors for arterial ischemic stroke, cerebral sinovenous thrombosis, and hemorrhagic stroke are reviewed, with a focused discussion regarding the role of neuroimaging for each subtype.
Results: In a neonate with suspected stroke, magnetic resonance imaging is the preferred modality, given the lack of X-irradiation, superior anatomic resolution, and sensitivity for acute ischemia. Core recommended sequences include diffusion-weighted imaging and apparent diffusion coefficient mapping to diagnose acute ischemia, gradient-recalled echo or susceptibility-weighted imaging to detect intracranial blood and its breakdown products, and T1- and T2-weighted imaging to assess for myelination, extra-axial blood, and edema. Magnetic resonance angiography of the brain may be useful to detect vascular abnormalities, with venography if venous sinus thrombosis is suspected. The application of more novel sequences, as well as the utility of follow up-imaging, is also discussed.
Keywords: computed tomography; cranial ultrasound; magnetic resonance imaging; neuroimaging; perinatal stroke.
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