Objective: To determine the prevalence of and to classify ultrasound-proven brain injury during neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in The Netherlands.
Design: Retrospective nationwide study (Rotterdam and Nijmegen), spanning two decades.
Setting: Level III university hospitals.
Subjects: All neonates who underwent neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation from 1989 to 2010.
Measurements and Main Results: Cranial ultrasound images were reviewed independently by two investigators without knowledge of primary diagnosis, outcome, type of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or statistics. The scans were reviewed for lesion type and timing, with the use of a refined classification method for focal brain injury. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation type was venoarterial in 88%. Brain abnormalities were detected in 17.3%: primary hemorrhage was most frequent (8.8%). Stroke was identified in 5% of the total group, with a notable significant preference for the left hemisphere (in 70%). Lobar hematoma (prevalence 2.2 %) was also significantly left predominant.
Conclusion: The incidence of brain injury found with cranial ultrasound in The Netherlands of the patients treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation during the neonatal period was 17.3%. Primary hemorrhage was the largest group of lesions, not clearly side-specific except for lobar bleeding, most probably related to changes in venous flow. Arterial ischemic stroke occurred predominant in the left hemisphere.