International Perfusion Association


Clinical Use of Bedside Portable Low-field Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Patients on ECMO: The Results from Multicenter SAFE MRI ECMO Study

Purpose: Early detection of acute brain injury (ABI) is critical for improving survival for patients with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support. We aimed to evaluate the safety of ultra-low-field portable MRI (ULF-pMRI) and the frequency and types of ABI observed during ECMO support. Methods: We conducted a multicenter prospective observational study (NCT05469139) at two academic tertiary centers (August 2022-November 2023). Primary outcomes were safety and validation of ULF-pMRI in ECMO, defined as exam completion without adverse events (AEs); secondary outcomes were ABI frequency and type. Results: ULF-pMRI was performed in 50 patients with 34 (68%) on venoarterial (VA)-ECMO (11 central; 23 peripheral) and 16 (32%) with venovenous (VV)-ECMO (9 single lumen; 7 double lumen). All patients were imaged successfully with ULF-pMRI, demonstrating discernible intracranial pathologies with good quality. AEs occurred in 3 (6%) patients (2 minor; 1 serious) without causing significant clinical issues. ABI was observed in ULF-pMRI scans for 22 patients (44%): ischemic stroke (36%), intracranial hemorrhage (6%), and hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (4%). Of 18 patients with both ULF-pMRI and head CT (HCT) within 24 hours, ABI was observed in 9 patients with 10 events: 8 ischemic (8 observed on ULF-oMRI, 4 on HCT) and 2 hemorrhagic (1 observed on ULF-pMRI, 2 on HCT). Conclusions: ULF-pMRI was shown to be safe and valid in ECMO patients across different ECMO cannulation strategies. The incidence of ABI was high, and ULF-pMRI may more sensitive to ischemic ABI than HCT. ULF-pMRI may benefit both clinical care and future studies of ECMO-associated ABI.

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