Color Doppler imaging revealed a subclavian steal-retrograde flow in the right vertebral artery which shunted blood from the brain's posterior circulation to the right arm via the subclavian artery-in 17 of 54 infants (31%) during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO); right vertebral artery flow returned to antegrade after ECMO and removal of the right common carotid arterial cannula. When subjects with and without a subclavian steal were compared, there were no statistically significant differences in mortality; in the results of neonatal electroencephalograms, cranial ultrasound studies, or computed tomography studies; or in early neurological development. Blood flow patterns and peak systolic velocities in the circle of Willis, middle cerebral arteries, internal carotid arteries, and basilar artery were similar in both groups during ECMO; blood flow velocity in the middle cerebral arteries was slightly but significantly lower on the right than the left in both groups. Our results indicate that increased flow in the left vertebral artery adequately compensated for the effect of a subclavian steal on the basilar and cerebral circulation. The moderate to marked neonatal electroencephalographic abnormalities commonly occurring during ECMO and the approximately 20% incidence of neurodevelopmental deficits among ECMO survivors remain largely unexplained.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Clinical Neurology