Medical Professional Publications

Technique Could Identify ECMO Patients at High Risk of Stroke or Brain Hemorrhage

(From the July 2013 Issue of MedStat)

Measuring blood flow in the brain may be an easy, noninvasive way to predict stroke or hemorrhage in children receiving cardiac or respiratory support through ECMO, according to a new study by researchers at Nationwide Children’s. Early detection would allow physicians to alter treatment and take steps to prevent these complications – the leading cause of death for patients on ECMO. Nicole O’Brien, MD, a physician and scientist in critical care medicine at Nationwide Children’s, is the lead author of the study, which appears in a recent issue of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. One of the biggest risks of ECMO is bleeding in the brain. Only 36 percent of children who suffer this complication survive, many left with permanent neurologic injury. To better understand the cause for these brain bleeds, O’Brien launched a pilot study to monitor cerebral blood flow. The age of the child, length of time on ECMO or the underlying illness didn’t seem to matter. The only difference was that cerebral blood flow was dramatically increased in patients who ultimately had problems. The most intriguing finding was that the increase in blood flow occurred as long as two to six days before the patient began bleeding in the brain. O’Brien is planning a multi-center trial to see if the outcome will be the same in a larger study population.

Read the news release.

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