Routine Neuroimaging: Understanding Brain Injury in Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation∗

Abdelaziz Farhat, Xilong Li, Beverley Huet, Jefferson Tweed, Michael C. Morriss, Lakshmi Raman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: This project aims to describe brain injuries on routine neuroimaging in a large single-center neonatal and pediatric cohort supported by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The study also aims to examine the association of these injuries with neurocognitive outcomes in survivors and identify laboratory findings associated with neurologic injury. DESIGN: Retrospective observational single-center cohort study. SETTING: Tertiary care PICU. PATIENTS: Pediatric patients with noncardiac indications for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation supported by venoarterial or venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, with on-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation brain CT or postextracorporeal membrane oxygenation brain CT/MRI. INTERVENTIONS: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Occurrence of brain injury on CT and MRI was reviewed; injuries were scored. Clinical and laboratory results associated with injury were identified. Survivor neurocognitive outcomes were obtained using the Pediatric Overall Performance Category scale and Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category scale. Of 132 imaged patients, 98 (74%) had radiological evidence of brain injury. Mean injury score was 6.5 (± 3.8). Head ultrasounds and clinician suspicion performed poorly in suspecting the presence of injury. Of 104 respondents to neurodevelopmental assessments, 61 (59%) had normal scores; 12.5%, 17%, and 11.5% had mild, moderate, or severe disability. A neuroimaging score greater than 10 was associated with an unfavorable outcome on the Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category (odds ratio, 3.4; p < 0.01) and Pediatric Overall Performance Category (odds ratio, 1.7; p < 0.05). Ischemic injury correlated with worse neurodevelopmental outcome. Preextracorporeal membrane oxygenation lactate, Vasoactive-Inotropic Scores, transaminitis, elevated bilirubin and creatinine levels, and thrombocytopenia were associated with injury occurrence. CONCLUSIONS: Brain injury is frequent in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation patients, although the majority of survivors have favorable neurocognitive outcomes. More research is needed in order to understand the etiology of such injuries. Head ultrasound and clinician suspicion are not sensitive in detecting extracorporeal membrane oxygenation-related brain injuries. Protocolizing postextracorporeal membrane oxygenation imaging with brain MRI allows the identification of injuries and provision of timely neurocognitive intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-490
Number of pages11
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category
  • brain injury
  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • neuroimaging
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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