Objective To determine differences of cerebral growth between very low birth weight infants (VLBW) at near-term corrected age and near-term neonates using cerebral ultrasound (cUS) measurements and head circumference (HC).
Methods We assessed digitally stored cUS images obtained during a 3 year period. We compared images of VLBW scanned at near-term corrected age (group 1) with babies born at 34 W who performed cUS during the first 2 weeks (group 2). We excluded babies with major perinatal issues. Sixteen cUS measurements were done on standard cUS planes during the review process using ImageArena software. HC on scanning date was also evaluated.
Results Both groups were statistically similar regarding corrected age, weight and HC. Deep grey matter and midline structures were similar between groups. Significant differences were noted in CSF structures (ventricles and extra-cerebral space), that were larger on VLBW infants (see table).
Our data support the concept that extra-uterine CNS growth is compromised in VLBW. In our study, this is shown by larger CSF spaces in VLBW, while HC, deep grey matter and central brainstem structures’ measurements were similar. We consider that these findings can suggest less peri-ventricular white matter and that cUS could be also a useful tool on determining neurodevelopment outcome.
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