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Distinguishing multicystic from focal encephalomalacia on delayed MRI in children with term hypoxic ischemic injury.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: To define cystic patterns resulting from term hypoxic ischemic injury (HII) on delayed Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and determine associated HII patterns and lesions that reflect the severity of injury, from a database of African children with cerebral palsy.

METHODS: Retrospective review of 1175 children with cerebral palsy due to term HII diagnosed on late MRI, identifying those with cystic changes. These were classified as multicystic or (multi-) focal-cystic, and were evaluated for associated injuries-thalami, basal ganglia, hippocampi, cerebellum, and presence of ulegyria.

RESULTS: Three hundred and eighty-eight of 1175 (33%) children had cystic encephalomalacia. Two hundred and seven of 388 (53.3%) had focal-cystic and 181/388 (46.6%) had multicystic injury. The focal-cystic group comprised 87.9% (182/207) with thalamic injury, 25.6% (53/207) with basal ganglia injury, and 15% (31/207) with cerebellar involvement. Basal-ganglia-thalamus (BGT) pattern was present in 43.9% (91/207) and ulegyria in 69.6% (144/207). In the multicystic group, 88.9% (161/181) had thalamic injury, 30.9% (56/181) had basal ganglia injury, and 21% (38/181) had cerebellar involvement. BGT pattern was observed in 29.8% (54/181) and ulegyria in 28.7%. (52/181). Significant associations (p<.05) were found between multicystic injury and caudate/globus pallidus involvement, and between focal-cystic pattern of injury and ulegyria.

CONCLUSIONS: Cystic encephalomalacia was seen in almost one-third of patients with term HII imaged with delayed MRI, with a similar prevalence of focal-cystic and multicystic injury. Multicystic injury was associated with caudate and globus pallidi involvement, typical of the BGT pattern of HII, whereas the focal-cystic pattern was associated with ulegyria, typical of watershed injury.

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