Cerebral lactate and N-acetyl-aspartate/choline ratios in asphyxiated full-term neonates demonstrated in vivo using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Pediatr Res. 1994 Feb;35(2):148-51. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199402000-00004.


The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that a high lactate signal and a low N-acetyl-aspartate/choline ratio in neonates with postasphyxial encephalopathy indicated a high chance of an adverse outcome in vivo when proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used. Twenty-one full-term asphyxiated neonates were examined at a mean postnatal age of 7.1 d. Five patients died, and five survivors had handicaps. Eleven of the 16 survivors (seven without handicaps and four with handicaps) had a second examination at 3 mo of age. After magnetic resonance imaging, spectra were obtained at 1.5 tesla. A 20-mm-thick slice was selected through the basal ganglia. After optimizing the B-0 field, we used a double spin-echo pulse sequence (90-180-180 degrees) with a time to repeat of 2000 ms and a time to echo of 272 ms. Two-dimensional spectroscopic imaging was performed by 32 x 32 phase encoding steps in two directions in a 225-mm field of view, resulting in 1-mL volumes, followed by computerized processing. Neuromotor development was examined at 6 wk, 3 mo, and every 3 mo thereafter. Lactate resonances were seen only in the five patients with grade 3 postasphyxial encephalopathy. Lactate was distributed diffusely (n = 4), or localized in areas of infarction (n = 1). N-acetyl-aspartate/choline ratios were significantly lower in the patients with an adverse outcome than in the survivors without handicaps, both neonatally (p < 0.005, Wilcoxon's rank sum test) and at 3 mo (p < 0.05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Asphyxia Neonatorum / metabolism*
  • Asphyxia Neonatorum / pathology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Choline / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactates / metabolism*
  • Lactic Acid
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Nervous System / growth & development
  • Nervous System / pathology
  • Prognosis


  • Lactates
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Choline