Early prediction of unilateral cerebral palsy in infants at risk: MRI versus the hand assessment for infants

Wagenaar, Nienke, Verhage, Cornelia H, de Vries, Linda S, van Gasselt, Bram P L, Koopman-Esseboom, Corine, Leemans, Alexander, Groenendaal, Floris, Benders, Manon J N L, van der Aa, Niek E


Pediatric Research 87 (5), p. 932-939


Background: Neonates with unilateral perinatal brain injury (UPBI) are at risk for developing unilateral spastic cerebral palsy (USCP). This study compares several predictors for USCP later in life. Methods: Twenty-one preterm and 24 term born infants with UPBI were included, with an MRI scan including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) performed at term equivalent age or around 3 months after birth, respectively. T2-weighted images and DTI-based tractography were used to measure the surface area, diameter, and fractional anisotropy (FA) of both corticospinal tracts (CSTs). The hand assessment for infants (HAI) was performed before 5, between 5 and 8 and between 8 and 12 months of (corrected) age. Asymmetry indices were derived from all techniques and related to USCP at ≥2 years of age. Results: MRI measures and HAI scores were significantly lower for the affected compared to the unaffected side. Before 5 months of age, FA asymmetry on DTI yielded the highest area under the curve compared to conventional MRI and HAI. Conclusions: Prediction of USCP after UPBI is reliable using asymmetry of the CST on MRI, as well as clinical hand assessment. Before 5 months of age, DTI tractography provides strongest predictive information, while HAI specifically aids to prognosis of USCP at later age points.