Background: Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) is becoming standard of care in newborns with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). The prognostic value of the EEG and the incidence of seizures during TH are uncertain.
Objective: To describe evolution of EEG background and incidence of seizures during TH, and to identify EEG patterns predictive for MRI brain injury.
Methods: A total of 41 newborns with HIE underwent TH. Continuous video-EEG was performed during hypothermia and rewarming. EEG background and seizures were reported in a standardized manner. Newborns underwent MRI after rewarming. Sensitivity and specificity of EEG background for moderate to severe MRI brain injury was assessed at 6-hour intervals during TH and rewarming.
Results: EEG background improved in 49%, remained the same in 38%, and worsened in 13%. A normal EEG had a specificity of 100% upon initiation of monitoring and 93% at later time points. Burst suppression and extremely low voltage patterns held the greatest prognostic value only after 24 hours of monitoring, with a specificity of 81% at the beginning of cooling and 100% at later time points. A discontinuous pattern was not associated with adverse outcome in most patients (73%). Electrographic seizures occurred in 34% (14/41), and 10% (4/41) developed status epilepticus. Seizures had a clinical correlate in 57% (8/14) and were subclinical in 43% (6/14).
Conclusions: Continuous video-EEG monitoring in newborns with HIE undergoing TH provides prognostic information about early MRI outcome and accurately identifies electrographic seizures, nearly half of which are subclinical.