Continuous Monitoring of Cerebral Autoregulation in Children Supported by Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation: A Pilot Study



Cerebral autoregulation (CA) impairment may pose a risk factor for neurological complications among children supported by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Our first objective was to investigate the feasibility of CA continuous monitoring during ECMO treatment and to describe its evolution over time. The second objective was to analyze the association between CA impairment and neurological outcome.


Observational prospective study.

Patients and Setting

Twenty-nine children treated with veno-arterial or veno-venous ECMO in the PICU of Nantes University Hospital, France, and the PICU of the IRCCS Giannina Gaslini Institute in Genoa, Italy.


A correlation coefficient between the variations of regional cerebral oxygen saturation and the variations of mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) was calculated as an index of CA (cerebral oxygenation reactivity index, COx). A COx > 0.3 was considered as indicative of autoregulation impairment. COx—MAP plots were investigated allowing determining optimal MAP (MAPopt) and limits of autoregulation: lower (LLA) and upper (ULA). Neurological outcome was assessed by the onset of an acute neurological event (ANE) after ECMO start.


We included 29 children (median age 84 days, weight 4.8 kg). MAPopt, LLA, and ULA were detected in 90.8% (84.3–93.3) of monitoring time. Mean COx was significantly higher during day 1 of ECMO compared to day 2 [0.1 (0.02–0.15) vs. 0.01 (− 0.05 to 0.1), p = 0.002]. Twelve children experienced ANE (34.5%). The mean COx and the percentage of time spent with a COx > 0.3 were significantly higher among ANE+ compared to ANE− patients [0.09 (0.01–0.23) vs. 0.04 (− 0.02 to 0.06), p = 0.04 and 33.3% (24.8–62.1) vs. 20.8% (17.3–23.7) p = 0.001]. ANE+ patients spent significantly more time with MAP below LLA [17.2% (6.5–32.9) vs. 5.6% (3.6–9.9), p = 0.02] and above ULA [13% (5.3–38.4) vs. 4.2% (2.7–7.4), p = 0.004], respectively.


CA assessment is feasible in pediatric ECMO. The first 24 h following ECMO represents the most critical period regarding CA. Impaired autoregulation is significantly more severe among patients who experience ANE.

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