Meta-analysis of apparent diffusion coefficients in the newborn brain.

Research paper by Jacqueline S JS Coats, Adam A Freeberg, Elaine G EG Pajela, André A Obenaus, Stephen S Ashwal

Indexed on: 15 Sep '09Published on: 15 Sep '09Published in: Pediatric Neurology


Diffusion-weighted imaging and its quantitative apparent diffusion coefficient can assess severity in newborn hypoxic-ischemic injuries. A meta-analysis established normative values in term newborns, in comparison to those values in hypoxic-ischemic newborns with good versus poor outcomes. Measurements from 14 reports were stratified into three levels of increasing specificity: tissue type (gray matter, white matter, or cerebellum), tissue distribution (e.g., cortex or white-matter tracts), and anatomic structures (e.g., frontal white matter or posterior limb of the internal capsule). Normative apparent diffusion coefficients constituted white matter > gray matter = cerebellum, with lowest values in the posterior limb of the internal capsule and thalamus, and the highest in frontal and occipital white matter. Differences between normative and hypoxic-ischemic injury good-outcome groups were not evident. Values in the poor outcome group were significantly lower than normative data in white matter, gray matter, cortical gray matter, white matter tracts, posterior limb of the internal capsule, and cortical, frontal, and occipital white matter. Comparisons between injury groups found that coefficients were only significantly lower in the occipital cortex among poor outcomes. Coefficient values were lower in deep brain compared with cortical structures, reflecting tissue maturation and myelination. Differences between normative and hypoxic-ischemic injury poor-outcome groups suggest pathologies associated with neurologic sequelae. This meta-analysis provides the basis for normative apparent diffusion coefficient values in the newborn brain.