Background/Purpose: Intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) is a major concern during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Daily cranial ultrasonography has been used by many ECMO centers as a diagnostic tool for both detecting and following ICH while infants are on bypass. The purpose of this patient review was to look at the usefulness of performing daily cranial ultrasonography (HUS) in infants on ECMO in detecting intraventricular hemorrhage of a magnitude sufficient to alter patient treatment. Methods: The authors reviewed retrospectively all of the records of all neonates treated with ECMO at the Hermann Children's Hospital, Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and Texas Children's Hospital between February 1986 to March 1995. Two hundred ninety-eight patients were placed on ECMO during this period. All patients had HUS before, and daily while on ECMO, and all were reviewed by the staff radiologists. A total of 2,518 HUS examinations were performed. Results: Fifty-two of 298 patients (17.5%) had an intraventricular hemorrhage seen on ultrasound scan. Nine of 52 patients (17.3%) had an ICH seen on the initial HUS examination before ECMO, all of which were grade I, and 43 of 52 patients (82.7%) had ICH while on ECMO. Of these ICH, 15 were grade I, 10 were grade II, 10 were grade III, and eight were grade IV. Forty of these ICH (93%) were diagnosed by HUS during the first 5 days of the ECMO course. Seven hundred eighty-six HUS were performed after day 5, at an estimated cost of $300,000 to $450,000 (charges), demonstrating three new intraventricular hemorrhages, one grade I, and one grade IV on day 7 and one grade I on day 8. Eight patients were taken off ECMO because of ICH diagnosed within the first 5 days. One patient was taken off ECMO because of ICH diagnosed after 5 days. This patient had clinical symptoms suggestive of ICH. Conclusions: Almost all ICH occur during the first 5 days of an ECMO course. Unless there is a clinical suspicion, it is not cost effective to perform HUS after the fifth day on ECMO, because subsequent HUS examinations are unlikely to yield information significant enough to alter management.
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
- Head ultrasonography
- Intracranial hemorrhage