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Prognostic value of continuous EEG monitoring during therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest

Andrea O Rossetti1, Luis A Urbano2, Frederik Delodder2, Peter W Kaplan3 and Mauro Oddo2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Lausanne University Hospital and Faculty of Biology and Medicine, BH-07, Rue du Bugnon 46, CHUV, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Lausanne University Hospital and Faculty of Biology and Medicine, BH-08, Rue du Bugnon 46, CHUV, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland

3 Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, 4940 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA

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Critical Care 2010, 14:R173  doi:10.1186/cc9276

Published: 29 September 2010



Continuous EEG (cEEG) is increasingly used to monitor brain function in neuro-ICU patients. However, its value in patients with coma after cardiac arrest (CA), particularly in the setting of therapeutic hypothermia (TH), is only beginning to be elucidated. The aim of this study was to examine whether cEEG performed during TH may predict outcome.


From April 2009 to April 2010, we prospectively studied 34 consecutive comatose patients treated with TH after CA who were monitored with cEEG, initiated during hypothermia and maintained after rewarming. EEG background reactivity to painful stimulation was tested. We analyzed the association between cEEG findings and neurologic outcome, assessed at 2 months with the Glasgow-Pittsburgh Cerebral Performance Categories (CPC).


Continuous EEG recording was started 12 ± 6 hours after CA and lasted 30 ± 11 hours. Nonreactive cEEG background (12 of 15 (75%) among nonsurvivors versus none of 19 (0) survivors; P < 0.001) and prolonged discontinuous "burst-suppression" activity (11 of 15 (73%) versus none of 19; P < 0.001) were significantly associated with mortality. EEG seizures with absent background reactivity also differed significantly (seven of 15 (47%) versus none of 12 (0); P = 0.001). In patients with nonreactive background or seizures/epileptiform discharges on cEEG, no improvement was seen after TH. Nonreactive cEEG background during TH had a positive predictive value of 100% (95% confidence interval (CI), 74 to 100%) and a false-positive rate of 0 (95% CI, 0 to 18%) for mortality. All survivors had cEEG background reactivity, and the majority of them (14 (74%) of 19) had a favorable outcome (CPC 1 or 2).


Continuous EEG monitoring showing a nonreactive or discontinuous background during TH is strongly associated with unfavorable outcome in patients with coma after CA. These data warrant larger studies to confirm the value of continuous EEG monitoring in predicting prognosis after CA and TH.