This study aimed to describe the prevalence of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (HIBI) on head CT (HCT) obtained within two hours of return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) care in the Emergency Department following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) and evaluate the association between early HIBI and neurologic outcome.
Retrospective single center observational study of post-OHCA patients between 2009 and 2017. Two cohorts were analyzed: those who underwent non-contrast HCT within two hours of ROSC and all others who survived to ICU admission. HIBI was defined as the presence of cerebral edema and/or abnormal gray-white matter differentiation in the HCT interpretation by a neuroradiologist. The primary outcomes were the prevalence of HIBI on early HCT and the magnitude of the association between HIBI and survival with good neurologic outcome using multivariable logistic regression.
Following OHCA, 333 of 520 patients (64%) underwent HCT within two hours of ROSC and HIBI was present in 96 of 333 patients (29%). Of the early HCT cohort, those with HIBI had a significantly lower hospital survival (2%) and favorable neurologic outcome (1%). In those without HIBI on imaging, 88 of 237 patients (37%) had a favorable outcome. After adjustment for confounding variables, HIBI on early HCT was independently associated with a decreased likelihood of good neurologic outcome (aOR 0.015, 95% CI 0.002-0.12).
HIBI was present on 29% of HCTs obtained within 2 h of ROSC in the patients selected for early imaging by emergency physicians and was strongly and inversely associated with survival with a good neurologic outcome.

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