Acute Brain Injury in Infant Venoarterial Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation: An Autopsy Study

Giorgio Caturegli, Sung Min Cho, Bartholomew White, Liam Lucian Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: Characterization of the types and timing of acute brain injury in infant autopsy patients after extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Single tertiary-care center. Patients: Infants supported on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Measurements and Main Results: Clinical and pathologic records were reviewed for infant extracorporeal membrane oxygenation patients who had undergone brain autopsy in a single center between January 2009 and December 2018. Twenty-four patients supported on venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation had postmortem examination with brain autopsy. Median age at extracorporeal membrane oxygenation initiation was 82 days (interquartile range, 11-263 d), median age at time of death was 20 weeks (interquartile range, 5-44 wk), and median extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support duration was 108 hours (interquartile range, 35-366 hr). The most common acute brain injury found at autopsy was hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (58%) followed by intracranial hemorrhage (29%). The most common types of intracranial hemorrhage were intracerebral (17%), subarachnoid (17%), and subdural (8%). Only five infants (21%) did not have acute brain injury. Correlates of acute brain injury included low preextracorporeal membrane oxygenation oxygen saturation as well as elevated liver enzymes, total bilirubin, and lactate on days 1 and 3 of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Gestational age, Apgar scores, birth weight, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation duration, anticoagulation therapy, and renal and hepatic impairments were not associated with acute brain injury. Conclusions: Acute brain injury was observed in 79% of autopsies conducted in infants supported on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury was the most common type of brain injury (58%), and further associations with preextracorporeal membrane oxygenation acute brain injury require additional exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • brain injury
  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • infant
  • neuropathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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