• Vol. 38 No. 9, 788–794
  • 15 September 2009

Hypoxic-ischaemic Brain Injury in Young Infants



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Many imaging techniques are available for the detection of hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury in young infants. This paper presents an overview of the imaging findings in hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury with an emphasis on MR imaging.

In young infants, different types of hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury can occur.1-6 Brain injury can be localised or diffused.2-6 In localised brain injury, arterial or venous periventricular infarctions are encountered. Causes of arterial infarction in the paediatric population are coagulopathies, vasculopathies, polycythaemia, and emboli from cyanotic congenital heart disease.7 In the paediatric population, including young infants, the cause of arterial infarction is unknown in more than half of the cases.8 The infant may present with seizures, hypotonia, lethargy or motor asymmetry or the infarction may be asymptomatic, which may remain undetected until neuroimaging is performed for other reasons.7,8 Compared to adults, the prognosis in young infants with arterial infarction is generally better.7 When no underlying cause is found, the child is unlikely to have another stroke in the future and neurological prognosis, apart from the local injury, is good.7 Venous periventricular infarction is typically associated with severe germinal matrix haemorrhage in pre-term infants.7,9,10

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