Perioperative electroencephalography in cardiac surgery with hypothermic circulatory arrest: a narrative review

William McDevitt, Tanwir Gul, Timothy Jones, Barney Scholefield, Stefano Seri, Nigel Drury

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OBJECTIVES: Cardiac surgery with hypothermic circulatory arrest (HCA) is associated with neurological morbidity of variable severity and electroencephalography (EEG) is a sensitive proxy measure of brain injury. We conducted a narrative review of the literature to evaluate the role of perioperative EEG monitoring in cardiac surgery involving HCA.

METHODS: Medline, Embase, Central and LILACS databases were searched to identify studies utilizing perioperative EEG during surgery with HCA in all age groups, published since 1985 in any language. We aimed to compare EEG use with no use but due to the lack of comparative studies, we performed a narrative review of its utility. Two or more reviewers independently screened studies for eligibility and extracted data.

RESULTS: Fourty single-centre studies with a total of 3287 patients undergoing surgery were identified. Most were observational cohort studies (34, 85%) with only 1 directly comparing EEG use with no use. EEG continuity (18, 45%), seizures (15, 38%) and electrocerebral inactivity prior to circulatory arrest (15, 38%) were used to detect, monitor, prevent and prognose neurological injury. Neurological dysfunction was reported in almost all studies and occurred in 0-21% of patients. However, the heterogeneity of reported clinical and EEG outcome measures prevented meta-analysis.

CONCLUSIONS: EEG is used to detect cortical ischaemia and seizures and predict neurological abnormalities and may guide intraoperative cerebral protection. However, there is a lack of comparative data demonstrating the benefit of perioperative EEG monitoring. Use of a standardized methodology for performing EEG and reporting outcome metrics would facilitate the conduct of high-quality clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberivac198
JournalInteractive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery.


  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures/adverse effects
  • Electroencephalography/methods
  • Heart Arrest
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative/methods
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermic circulatory arrest
  • Neuroprotection
  • Paediatric cardiac surgery
  • Electroencephalography
  • Neurological injury
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Surgery


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