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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Critical Care 1/2018

Low b-value diffusion weighted imaging is promising in the diagnosis of brain death and hypoxic-ischemic injury secondary to cardiopulmonary arrest

Critical Care > Ausgabe 1/2018
Miriam E. Peckham, Jeffrey S. Anderson, Ulrich A. Rassner, Lubdha M. Shah, Peter J. Hinckley, Adam de Havenon, Seong-Eun Kim, J. Scott McNally



Cardiorespiratory arrest can result in a spectrum of hypoxic ischemic brain injury leading to global hypoperfusion and brain death (BD). Because up to 40% of patients with BD are viable organ donors, avoiding delayed diagnosis of this condition is critical. High b-value diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) measures primarily molecular self-diffusion; however, low b-values are sensitive to perfusion. We investigated the feasibility of low b-value DWI in discriminating the global hypoperfusion of BD and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).


We retrospectively reviewed cardiorespiratory arrest subjects with a diagnosis of HIE or BD. Inclusion criteria included brain DWI acquired at both low (50 s/mm2) and high (1000–2000 s/mm2) b-values. Automated segmentation was used to determine mean b50 apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values in gray and white matter regions. Normal subjects with DWI at both values were used as age- and sex-matched controls.


We evaluated 64 patients (45 with cardiorespiratory arrest and 19 normal). Cardiorespiratory arrest patients with BD had markedly lower mean b50 ADC in gray matter regions compared with HIE (0.70 ± 0.18 vs. 1.95 ± 0.25 × 10−3 mm2/s, p < 0.001) and normal subjects (vs. 1.79 ± 0.12 × 10−3 mm2/s, p < 0.001). HIE had higher mean b50 ADC compared with normal (1.95 ± 0.25 vs. 1.79 ± 0.12 × 10−3 mm2/s, p = 0.016). There was wide separation of gray matter ADC values in BD subjects compared with age matched normal and HIE subjects. White matter values were also markedly decreased in the BD population, although they were less predictive than gray matter.


Low b-value DWI is promising for the discrimination of HIE with maintained perfusion and brain death in cardiorespiratory arrest.
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