BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Fetuses and neonates with critical congenital heart disease are at risk of delayed brain development and neurodevelopmental impairments. Our aim was to investigate the association between fetal and neonatal brain volumes and neonatal brain injury in a longitudinally scanned cohort with an antenatal diagnosis of critical congenital heart disease and to relate fetal and neonatal brain volumes to postmenstrual age and type of congenital heart disease.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a prospective, longitudinal study including 61 neonates with critical congenital heart disease undergoing surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass
RESULTS: Total fetal brain volume, cortical gray matter, and unmyelinated white matter positively correlated with preoperative neonatal total brain volume, cortical gray matter, and unmyelinated white matter (r = 0.5-0.58); fetal ventricular CSF and extracerebral CSF correlated with neonatal ventricular CSF and extracerebral CSF (r = 0.64 and 0.82). Fetal cortical gray matter, unmyelinated white matter, and the cerebellum were negatively correlated with neonatal ischemic injury (r = -0.46 to -0.41); fetal extracerebral CSF and ventricular CSF were positively correlated with neonatal ischemic injury (r = 0.40 and 0.23). Unmyelinated white matter:total brain volume ratio decreased with increasing postmenstrual age, with a parallel increase of cortical gray matter:total brain volume and cerebellum:total brain volume. Fetal ventricular CSF:intracranial volume and extracerebral CSF:intracranial volume ratios decreased with increasing postmenstrual age; however, neonatal ventricular CSF:intracranial volume and extracerebral CSF:intracranial volume ratios increased with postmenstrual age.
CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals that fetal brain volumes relate to neonatal brain volumes in critical congenital heart disease, with a negative correlation between fetal brain volumes and neonatal ischemic injury. Fetal brain imaging has the potential to provide early neurologic biomarkers.