Objective: To evaluate the value of continuous electroencephalography in early prognostication in patients treated with hypothermia after cardiac arrest.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Medical intensive care unit.
Patients: Sixty patients admitted to the intensive care unit for therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest.
Measurements and Main Results: In all patients, continuous electroencephalogram and daily somatosensory evoked potentials were recorded during the first 5 days of admission or until intensive care unit discharge. Neurological outcomes were based on each patient’s best achieved Cerebral Performance Category score within 6 months. Twenty-seven of 56 patients (48%) achieved good neurological outcome (Cerebral Performance Category score 1–2).
At 12 hrs after resuscitation, 43% of the patients with good neurological outcome showed continuous, diffuse slow electroencephalogram rhythms, whereas this was never observed in patients with poor outcome.
The sensitivity for predicting poor neurological outcome of low-voltage and isoelectric electroencephalogram patterns 24 hrs after resuscitation was 40% (95% confidence interval 19%–64%) with a 100% specificity (confidence interval 86%–100%), whereas the sensitivity and specificity of absent somatosensory evoked potential responses during the first 24 hrs were 24% (confidence interval 10%–44%) and 100% (confidence interval: 87%–100%), respectively. The negative predictive value for poor outcome of low-voltage and isoelectric electroencephalogram patterns was 68% (confidence interval 50%–81%) compared to 55% (confidence interval 40%–60%) for bilateral somatosensory evoked potential absence, both with a positive predictive value of 100% (confidence interval 63%–100% and 59%–100% respectively). Burst-suppression patterns after 24 hrs were also associated with poor neurological outcome, but not inevitably so.
Conclusions: In patients treated with hypothermia, electroencephalogram monitoring during the first 24 hrs after resuscitation can contribute to the prediction of both good and poor neurological outcome. Continuous patterns within 12 hrs predicted good outcome. Isoelectric or low-voltage electroencephalograms after 24 hrs predicted poor outcome with a sensitivity almost two times larger than bilateral absent somatosensory evoked potential responses.