Cerebral Blood Flow Measured by Phase-Contrast Magnetic Resonance Angiography in Preterm and Term Neonates

Nienke Wagenaar, Lucas H. Rijsman, Floris Groenendaal,

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Background: Preterm infants show a decreased tortuosity in all proximal segments of the cerebral vasculature at term-equivalent age (TEA). Recently MRI techniques were developed to measure cerebral blood flow (CBF) based on phase-contrast images. Objectives: We hypothesized that arterial CBF corrected for brain size differs between full-term and preterm infants at TEA. Methods: 344 infants without major brain abnormalities had a cranial MRI for clinical reasons including phase-contrast magnetic resonance angiography (PC-MRA) around TEA (mean 41.1 ± SD 1.2 weeks). This cohort consisted of 172 preterm infants (gestational age at birth 24.1-31.9 weeks) and 172 term-born infants (gestational age at birth 37.0-42.6 weeks). The total CBF in milliliters/minute was calculated by adding the blood flow of the carotid and basilar arteries, and compared to age at scan, body weight, and several parameters of estimated brain size. Results: After logarithmic transformation, total CBF was associated with body weight, estimated brain weight, head circumference, and 2D brain surface measurements at TEA. Total CBF was significantly (9-12%) higher in term compared to preterm infants after correction for 2D brain surface measurements, head circumference or postmenstrual age at MRI (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Total CBF as measured by PC-MRA was associated with body and (estimated) brain weight and 2D brain surface measurements and was higher in term compared to preterm born infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-233
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Prematurity
  • Neonate
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Phase-contrast magnetic resonance angiography


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