Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is associated with dysfunctional cerebral autoregulation. Resistive index (RI) measured in the anterior cerebral artery on transfontanellar head ultrasound is a noninvasive measure of blood flow and may indicate autoregulation dysfunction. We tested whether RI was associated with brain injury on diffusion tensor imaging magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Seventy-five neonates who underwent therapeutic hypothermia for HIE were enrolled. Resistive index values were obtained from head ultrasound performed at the end of therapeutic hypothermia. Apparent diffusion coefficient scalars were measured on MRIs performed before day of life 10.
Lower RI was associated with lower apparent diffusion coefficient in the centrum semiovale, basal ganglia, thalamus, and posterior limb of the internal capsule. Combining RI and Apgar scores improved the ability to distinguish injury severity on MRI relative to either metric alone.
Low RI correlated with worse brain injury on diffusion tensor imaging and may serve as an early marker of brain injury in cooled HIE neonates.