Brain injury remains a serious complication of prematurity. Almost half of infants with severe intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) develop posthemorrhagic ventricular dilatation (PHVD) and 20% need surgery for posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH). This population is associated with an increased risk of later neurodevelopmental disability, but there is uncertainty about which radiological and examination features predict later disability. In this study the authors sought to devise and describe a novel combination of neurobehavioral examination and imaging for prediction of neurodevelopmental disability among preterm infants with PHVD and PHH.
The study patients were preterm infants (< 36 weeks gestation) with IVH and PHVD, with or without PHH. Ventricular index (VI), anterior horn width (AHW), thalamooccipital distance (TOD), ventricle/brain (V/B) ratio, and resistive indices (RIs) were recorded on the head ultrasound (HUS) just prior to surgery, or the HUS capturing the worst PHVD when surgery was not indicated. The posterior fossa was assessed with MRI. Neonatal ICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS) examinations were performed at term age equivalent for each infant. A neurodevelopmental assessment using the Capute Scales (Capute Cognitive Adaptive Test [CAT] scores and Capute Clinical Linguistic Auditory Milestone Scale [CLAMS] scores) and a motor quotient (MQ) assessment were performed between 3 and 6 months of age corrected for degree of prematurity (corrected age). MQs < 50 reflect moderate to severe delays in early motor milestone attainment, CAT scores < 85 reflect delays in early visual and problem-solving abilities, and CLAMS scores < 85 reflect delays in early language.
Twenty-one infants underwent assessments that included imaging and NNNS examinations, Capute Scales assessments, and MQs. NNNS nonoptimal reflexes (NOR) and hypertonicity subscores and AHW were associated with MQs < 50: NOR subscore OR 2.46 (95% CI 1.15–37.6, p = 0.034), hypertonicity subscore OR 1.68 (95% CI 1.04–3.78, p = 0.037), and AHW OR 1.13 (95% CI 1.01–1.39, p = 0.041). PVHI, cystic changes, and neurosurgical intervention were associated with CAT scores < 85: PVHI OR 9.2 (95% CI 1.2–73.2, p = 0.037); cystic changes OR 12.0 (95% CI 1.0–141.3, p = 0.048), and neurosurgical intervention OR 11.2 (95% CI 1.0–120.4, p = 0.046). Every 1-SD increase in the NOR subscore was associated with an increase in odds of a CAT score < 85, OR 4.0 (95% CI 1.0–15.0, p = 0.044). Worse NNNS NOR subscores were associated with early language delay: for a 1-SD increase in NOR subscore, there was an increase in the odds of a CLAMS score < 85, OR 19.5 (95% CI 1.3–303, p = 0.034).
In former preterm children with severe IVH and PHVD, neonatal neurological examination findings and imaging features are associated with delays at 3–6 months in motor milestones, visual and problem-solving abilities, and language.