Conductive Plastic Electrodes Reduce EEG Artifact During Pediatric ECMO Therapy

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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a life-saving heart and lung bypass procedure that can cause substantial EEG artifact. Continuous EEG monitoring is nonetheless a helpful neuromonitoring tool for patients receiving ECMO therapy because neurologic complications are frequent, but factors such as sedation, neuromuscular blockade, and hemodynamic instability limit clinical and radiographic evaluation. We examined whether using conductive plastic electrodes in place of conventional gold electrodes reduces artifact in clinical EEG studies of pediatric ECMO patients.


Four masked electroencephalographers assessed artifact and its impact on overall EEG interpretation in samples from 21 consecutive EEGs recorded during ECMO therapy (14 gold and 7 plastic). A spectral power analysis then quantified 50- to 70-Hz artifact in a larger group of 14 gold and 34 plastic electrode studies during ECMO and 4 non-ECMO gold electrode studies.


The masked electroencephalographers identified less artifact (P < 0.001) and indicated greater confidence in the accuracy of EEG interpretation (P < 0.001) among studies recorded with plastic electrodes. In quantitative analyses, ECMO was associated with greater 50- to 70-Hz power among studies using gold electrodes (P < 0.001) and gold electrodes exhibited greater 50- to 70-Hz power than plastic electrodes (P < 0.001). Contrasting studies in which most of the electroencephalographers believed that interpretation was (n = 12; 7 gold and 5 plastic) or was not (n = 7; all gold) compromised by artifact, 50- to 70-Hz power was similarly higher among the compromised studies (P < 0.001).


Plastic electrodes substantially reduce the burden of electrical artifact in EEG studies performed on pediatric ECMO patients and improve confidence in EEG interpretation.

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