Brain imaging in preterm infants <32 weeks gestation: a clinical review and algorithm for the use of cranial ultrasound and qualitative brain MRI

John Ibrahim, Imran Mir, Lina Chalak
Pediatric Research 2018, 84 (6): 799-806
The aim is to review the evidence about the utility of term-equivalent age (TEA) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in predicting neurodevelopmental outcomes for preterm neonates. Preterm birth accounts for ~12% of all deliveries in the United States and is the leading cause of neurologic disabilities in children. From the neonatologist perspective, it is critically important to identify preterm infants at risk of subsequent neurodevelopmental disability who may benefit from early intervention services. However "the choose wisely campaign" also emphasizes the need to have ongoing cost/benefit discussions regarding care of preterm newborns to avoid waste that comes from subjecting infants to procedures that do not help. We performed a MEDLINE EMBASE database review from 2000 to 2018 to account for the technical evolution in the cranial ultrasound machines and introduction of MRI imaging in the NICU. Studies were graded based on the strength of their design using the GRADE guidelines and summarized with respect to brain MRI vs. cranial US (1) detection of white matter injury; (2) cerebellar hemorrhage; (3) long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes and impact on parental anxiety. We conclude with a hospital-specific guideline algorithm for performing TEA MRI based on risk evaluations ≤32 weeks.

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