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New EEG trace interpretation method predicts neurological recovery of cardiac arrest patients

15 May 2009 — 15 May 2009 Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT)

Miikka Ermes (M.Sc., Eng.), Research Scientist from VTT Technical
Research Centre of Finland will publicly defend his doctoral thesis
presenting methods for analysing human biosignals on 15 May 2009,
including innovative methods for the verification of brain damage
following cardiac arrest. Up until now, the use of
electroencephalography (EEG) in the monitoring of cardiac patients has
been limited due to interpretation difficulties.

A study conducted by a multi-disciplinary research team showed that
variables derived from EEG traces can be used to predict neurological
recovery even within the first 24 hours following cardiac arrest.

The researchers derived variables from the EEG trace which simplified
the interpretation process. The long-term goal of the team is to develop
methods that allow continuous monitoring of neurological recovery at
hospitals. This would allow the health care personnel to promptly
respond to changes in the patient's brain status.

If blood circulation stops, the tissue in the patient's body soon begins
to suffer from reduced oxygen delivery. Brain cells are particularly
sensitive to oxygen deprivation, which explains why even successfully
resuscitated patients often sustain neurological damage. In its mildest
form this is manifested as transient memory or movement disturbances; in
the most serious cases, they can cause permanent unconsciousness.

Basically, an electroencephalogram (EEG) records the electrical activity
of the brain in the same way as an electrocardiogram (ECG) records heart
activity. Interpreting EEG traces is more difficult, however, since
unlike the electrical activity of a regularly beating heart, the
electrical activity of the brain consists of irregular impulses
generated by billions of brain cells. While the applicability of EEG in
predicting neurological recovery has long been known, difficulties in
interpreting the recordings have limited the routine use of EEG in
patient monitoring. Interpretation almost invariably requires consulting
a specialist, which may cause a delay in treatment.

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