Magnetic resonance imaging of bilirubin encephalopathy: current limitations and future promise.

Abstract

Infants with chronic bilirubin encephalopathy often demonstrate abnormal bilateral, symmetric, high-signal intensity on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging of the globus pallidus and subthalamic nucleus, consistent with the neuropathology of kernicterus. Early magnetic resonance imaging of at-risk infants, while frequently showing increased T1-signal in these regions, may give false-positive findings due to the presence of myelin in these structures. Advanced magnetic resonance imaging including diffusion-weighted imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and diffusion tensor imaging with tractography may shed new insights into the pathogenesis of bilirubin-induced brain injury and the neural basis of long-term disability in infants and children with chronic bilirubin encephalopathy.

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