Volumetric and symmetry comparison of intracranial matter between preterm and full-term children
Kim, Myoung Jin
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BACKGROUND: Pre-term delivery is known to cause developmental problems due to the fragile nature of the premature brain. In particular, ventriculomegaly is a commonly observed phenomenon due to the hemorrhaging of the germinal matrix, and may cause alterations in the volumes of gray matter, white matter and cerebrospinal fluid in growing pre-term children. METHODS: The volume and symmetry of a sample population of ELGAN (Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborns) and normal-term population obtained from the NIH Study of Normal Brain Development was evaluated. The ELGAN group consisted of 88 subjects from age group 9 to 11 and the normal-term group consisted of 68 subjects from age group 7 to 11. Magnetic resonance images were taken from both samples and the intracranial matter was measured and segmented. RESULTS: Histograms of the obtained volumes showed a normal distribution and statistical analysis for each sample group and gender. The ELGAN group had higher intracranial volumes and showed statistically significant asymmetry that was not present in the normal term population with a larger right brain than left brain. Discussion: Results indicate that preterm delivery may alter processes that allow for symmetrical brain development and heavily favor the relative higher expansion of the right side of the brain. CONCLUSION: Further analysis of the concentration and location of the white matter and gray matter in both preterm and normal term children is necessary in order to understand the adaptive mechanisms that may be activated in order to offset the damage done to the premature brain.