Objective To assess whether the brain MRI results obtained during hypothermia identify the later brain injury observed in asphyxiated newborns after therapy is completed.
Patients and methods Asphyxiated newborns treated with hypothermia were prospectively enrolled in this study if they had at least one MRI performed during hypothermia treatment and then another MRI performed around day 10 of life.
Results A total of 129 MRI scans were obtained from 43 asphyxiated newborns treated with hypothermia. Sixty per cent developed brain injury; all the brain injuries observed on the late scans were already present on day 2–3 of life during hypothermia, and the extent of injury was similar between the early and late scans. The brain MRI on day 2–3 of life had a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI 84% to 100%) and a specificity of 100% (95% CI 77% to 100%) to identify the presence and extent of later brain injury.
Conclusions The brain MRIs performed during hypothermia already permit an accurate definition of the presence and extent of brain injury that later develop in asphyxiated newborns despite treatment. These results may have research and clinical implications for the care of these newborns.
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