Noninvasive optical measurement of microvascular cerebral hemodynamics and autoregulation in the neonatal ECMO patient

David R. Busch, Wesley B. Baker, Constantine D. Mavroudis, Tiffany S. Ko, Jennifer M. Lynch, Ann L. McCarthy, Genevieve DuPont-Thibodeau, Erin M. Buckley, Marin Jacobwitz, Timothy W. Boorady, Kobina Mensah-Brown, James T. Connelly, Arjun G. Yodh, Todd J. Kilbaugh, Daniel J. Licht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a life-saving intervention for severe respiratory and cardiac diseases. However, 50% of survivors have abnormal neurologic exams. Current ECMO management is guided by systemic metrics, which may poorly predict cerebral perfusion. Continuous optical monitoring of cerebral hemodynamics during ECMO holds potential to detect risk factors of brain injury such as impaired cerebrovascular autoregulation (CA). Methods: We conducted daily measurements of microvascular cerebral blood flow (CBF), oxygen saturation, and total hemoglobin concentration using diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) and frequency-domain diffuse optical spectroscopy in nine neonates. We characterize CA utilizing the correlation coefficient (DCSx) between CBF and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) during ECMO pump flow changes. Results: Average MAP and pump flow levels were weakly correlated with CBF and were not correlated with cerebral oxygen saturation. CA integrity varied between individuals and with time. Systemic measurements of MAP, pulse pressure, and left cardiac dysfunction were not predictive of impaired CA. Conclusions: Our pilot results suggest that systemic measures alone cannot distinguish impaired CA from intact CA during ECMO. Furthermore, optical neuromonitoring could help determine patient-specific ECMO pump flows for optimal CA integrity, thereby reducing risk of secondary brain injury. Impact: Cerebral blood flow and oxygenation are not well predicted by systemic proxies such as ECMO pump flow or blood pressure.Continuous, quantitative, bedside monitoring of cerebral blood flow and oxygenation with optical tools enables new insight into the adequacy of cerebral perfusion during ECMO.A demonstration of hybrid diffuse optical and correlation spectroscopies to continuously measure cerebral blood oxygen saturation and flow in patients on ECMO, enabling assessment of cerebral autoregulation.An observation of poor correlation of cerebral blood flow and oxygenation with systemic mean arterial pressure and ECMO pump flow, suggesting that clinical decision making guided by target values for these surrogates may not be neuroprotective.~50% of ECMO survivors have long-term neurological deficiencies; continuous monitoring of brain health throughout therapy may reduce these tragically common sequelae through brain-focused adjustment of ECMO parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)925-933
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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