The utility of cranial ultrasound as a screening tool for neonatal ECMO

Kathryn C. McCutcheon, Linda Wise, Kristopher Lewis, Bruce Gilbert, Jatinder J Bhatia, Brian K. Stansfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Neurologic complications including hemorrhage, ischemia, and infarction are often identified in neonates undergoing extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and may contribute to the high morbidity observed in ECMO survivors. Screening for intracranial complications is reliant on bedside transcranial ultrasound (CUS) prior to and during ECMO therapy, and advanced imaging [i.e. computed tomography (CT)/magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)] is recommended after completion of ECMO support. The goal of this study is to describe the correlation of intracranial complications identified on CUS during ECMO and MRI after completion of ECMO. Fifty-five neonates underwent ECMO support at the Children's Hospital of Georgia at Augusta University from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2017. Forty-four (80%) had a brain MRI performed prior to transfer or discharge. Ultrasound studies were reviewed by a single blinded pediatric radiologist and MRIs were reviewed by a single blinded neuro-radiologist. Of the 44 neonates with post-ECMO MRI, CUS during ECMO identified intracranial lesions in nine neonates, which were all confirmed on post-ECMO MRI. Sixteen subjects (46%) with unremarkable CUS during ECMO had identifiable lesions on post-ECMO MRI, yielding a sensitivity of 36% and a specificity of 100% for CUS in the detection of intracranial lesions. Despite the lack of correlation between CUS and MR, 84.6% of survivors exhibited normal development at 24 months of age. While necessary for the identification of intracranial lesions during neonatal ECMO, CUS demonstrated low correlation with post-ECMO MRI in the identification of intracranial lesions, which supports Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-178
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of perinatal medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH)
  • ischemia
  • neonate
  • screening
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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