Intracranial Volumes of Healthy Children in the First 3 Years of Life: An Analysis of 270 MRIs

There is limited data on normal intracranial volumes (ICV) for healthy children, particularly in the first few years of life when cranial growth is greatest. Disease processes such as craniosynostosis can limit the skull’s growth, which can subsequently affect the space available for the brain to develop. William Zhu, UCSD Medical Student, with collaborators Michael Brandel, Dr. Asra Hashmi, Dr. Chris M. Reid, Dr. Samuel Lance, and Dr. Amanda A. Gosman, use structural MRI data to generate a database to serve as a reference tool for future studies on craniosynostosis. 

Using FreeSurfer (version 6.0.0), they analysed 270 T1 scans from the NIH Pediatric MRI Data Repository to calculate mean ICVs for age in three- and six-month intervals. They also generated a best-fit curve and compared growth curves between demographic subtypes.

Among their findings: Using data from 129 female patients and 141 male patients, they generated a best-fit growth curve. Separate growth curves for male and female patients were also generated, which showed similar ICV until 2 months of age. The average male ICV ultimately reached 117.7 cubic centimeters at 3 years of age, in contrast to average female ICV of 104.2 cc at that age.

The bottom line: To our knowledge, this is the largest series of MRI-based intracranial volumes for healthy children less than three years of age, which may be used as a reference for evaluating craniosynostosis patients.

View presentation about this study

Authors: Michael G. Brandel BA1, William Y. Zhu BA1, Asra Hashmi MD2, Chris M. Reid MD2, Samuel Lance MD2, Amanda A. Gosman MD2

Affiliation: 1. UC San Diego School of Medicine. 2. UC San Diego Division of Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Amanda A. Gosman
Dr. Samuel Lance
Dr. Chris M. Reid
​Dr. Asra Hashmi
Michael Brandel
William Zhu