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Major brain injuries at term continue to influence DTI parameters in adolescents born very preterm: a 13-year follow-up study.

Acta Radiologica 2024 May 18
BACKGROUND: Major brain injuries in structural brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at term affect concurrent diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) parameters in very preterm infants. White matter is known to gradually maturate along with increasing gestational age, which is characterized by increasing fractional anisotropy (FA) and decreasing mean diffusivity (MD).

PURPOSE: To study the difference between DTI parameters at term and 13 years in adolescents born very preterm with and without major pathologies in structural brain MRI at term.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Adolescents born very preterm (gestational age <32 weeks and/or birth weight ≤1500 g) in 2004-2006 at Turku University Hospital, Finland were included. We evaluated FA and MD at term and 13 years in 18 regions of interest using the JHU-neonate-SS atlas to compare the differences in these parameters between adolescents with and without major injuries identified on MRI at term.

RESULTS: A total of 24 adolescents underwent brain MRI including DTI both at term and 13 years. Adolescents with major brain injury pathologies (n = 6) in structural MRI at term had decreased FA in the left corpus callosum and right cingulate gyrus part, and increased MD in the left corpus callosum, right anterior limb of internal capsule, and right posterior limb of the internal capsule at 13 years, in comparison with adolescents without major brain injuries (n = 18) in structural MRI at term.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that major brain injuries identified on structural MRI at term affect brain maturation, with adverse effects in FA and MD still during adolescence.

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