AIM: The optimal timing of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in encephalopathic infants treated with hypothermia is unknown, and this study examined whether early scans differed from later scans.
METHODS: We assessed paired MRI scans carried out on 41 cooled encephalopathic infants at a median of four and 11 days using two scoring systems: the Rutherford injury scores for the basal ganglia and thalami (BGT), white matter and the posterior limb of the internal capsule, and the Bonifacio injury scores for the BGT and watershed area.
RESULTS: Both systems produced consistent injury severity scores in 37 of 41 infants on both days, with Rutherford scores predicting poor outcome in six early scans and seven later scans (K = 0.91) and Bonifacio doing the same in seven and nine scans (K = 0.85). A white matter/watershed score of two or a BGT score of one indicated severe changes by day 11 in three infants, but lower scores did not.
CONCLUSION: Magnetic resonance imaging scans indicated that the Rutherford and Bonifacio systems produced similar scores in 37 of 41 cooled encephalopathic infants at a median of four and 11 days. Infants with an early white matter/watershed scores of two or a BGT score of one may worsen and should be rescanned.