The Role of Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Detecting Hippocampal Injury Following Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy

Jacqueline Salas, Nihaal Reddy, Emanuele Orru, Kathryn A. Carson, Raul Chavez-Valdez, Vera Joanna Burton, Carl E. Stafstrom, Frances J. Northington, Thierry A.G.M. Huisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury of the brain and resultant encephalopathy (HIE) leads to major developmental impairments by school age. Conventional/anatomical MRI often fails to detect hippocampal injury in mild cases. We hypothesize that diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has greater sensitivity for identifying subtle hippocampal injury. METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed DTI data collected from a cohort of neonates with HIE and controls. Conventional MRI sequences were classified qualitatively according to severity using a modified Barkovich scale. Using multivariate linear regression, we compared hippocampal DTI scalars of HIE patients and controls. Spearman correlation was used to test the association of DTI scalars in the hippocampal and thalamic regions. A multiple regression analysis tested the association of the DTI scalars with short-term outcomes. RESULTS: Fifty-five neonates with HIE (42% males) and 13 controls (54% males) were included. Hippocampal DTI scalars were similar between HIE and control groups, even when restricting the HIE group to those with moderate-to-severe injury (8 subjects). DTI scalars of the thalamus were significantly lower in the moderate-to-severely affected patients compared to controls (right fractional anisotropy [FA].148 vs.182, P =.01; left FA.147 vs.181, P =.03). Hippocampal and thalamic DTI scalars were correlated (P <.001). Hippocampal DTI scalars were not associated with short-term outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative DTI analysis of the hippocampus in neonates following HIE is a feasible technique to examine neuronal injury. Although DTI scalars were useful in identifying thalamic injury in our cohort, hippocampal DTI analysis did not provide additional information regarding hippocampal injury following HIE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-259
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroimaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • brain injury
  • hippocampus
  • hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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