Thalamic atrophy in infants with PVL and cerebral visual impairment.
Ricci D., Anker S., Cowan F., Pane M., Gallini F., Luciano R., Donvito V., Baranello G., Cesarini L., Bianco F., Rutherford M., Romagnoli C., Atkinson J., Braddick O., Guzzetta F., Mercuri E.
The aim of this retrospective study was to establish the presence and severity of cerebral visual impairment in preterm infants with PVL. We also wished to establish whether abnormalities of visual function are related to brain MRI findings and more specifically not only to the involvement of optic radiations and occipital cortex but also to changes in the thalami, that are often affected in infants with PVL. Twelve infants with cystic PVL were assessed at 1 year (+2) corrected age with a battery of tests specifically designed to assess various aspects of visual function in infancy, such as ocular movements, visual acuity, visual fields and fixation shift. All infants also had a brain MRI. Eleven of the 12 had involvement of the optic radiations: all had some abnormalities of visual function and visual impairment was more severe in infants with more extensive involvement of the optic radiations. The child with normal optic radiations had normal visual function. Six of the 12 infants also had obvious signs of atrophy of the thalami and all had severe and wide-ranging abnormalities of visual function in all testing domains. Two children had equivocal atrophy of the thalami, both had some abnormalities of visual function. Four children had normal thalami and had normal visual function or only minor abnormalities on one of the visual tests. Our results suggest that the atrophy of the thalami may play an additional role in the abnormal development of visual function in infants with PVL and abnormal optic radiations.