Critically Ill Babies Receive High-Tech Procedure in Shady Grove NICU - Adventist HealthCare

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Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on August 07, 2008

Critically Ill Babies Receive High-Tech Procedure in Shady Grove NICU

Rockville, MD - Babies born in Montgomery County and surrounding communities now have local access to a complex and highly technical procedure at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital that can lessen the risk of neurological damage following traumatic deliveries.

Recently, doctors in Shady Grove's level 3B neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) successfully treated two babies with the whole body cooling procedure, which is the only approved treatment for protecting a baby's brain from stress caused during labor and delivery.  During this highly technical procedure the baby's body temperature is lowered from the normal 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to approximate 32 or 33 degrees Celsius (89.6-91.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

"For babies who have experienced stress, such as low oxygen, or lack of blood supply to the central nervous system, immediately before or during the birthing process, whole body cooling can help to protect the brain," notes Pediatric Neurologist, Dr. Marc DiFazio, who helped perform the cooling procedures at Shady Grove.  "Long-term health consequences of such stress on the central nervous system can include cerebral palsy, mental retardation and epilepsy."

Many experts consider whole body cooling the current ‘gold standard' for neuro-protection in babies.  In fact, doctors have been using a similar cooling process to protect patients' brains during heart bypass procedures as well as in trauma situations for many years, with success.

Cooling is achieved by placing the baby on a cooling blanket, which is then closely regulated by the health care team, immediately following the birth.  The cooling process typically takes about 72 hours and the re-warming process then takes several additional hours.  Cooling is currently performed at a number of academic centers in the United States.  Shady Grove is now one of just a few hospitals in the area and the only in Montgomery County to offer whole body cooling in its level 3B NICU.

"We are pleased to offer this highly effective, cutting-edge treatment to patients in our NICU at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital," explains Dr. Kimberly Iafolla, Medical Director of Shady Grove's NICU, who also helped to manage the cooling procedures in the NICU.

During the cooling process, doctors also used a technology called amplitude integrated electroencephalography (EEG), which allowed them to continuously monitor brain electrical activity.  This is a critical capability to identify candidates for cooling and monitoring brain integrity during the cooling and warming process.  EEG's also provide a way to quickly identify seizures that may be clinically silent in the cooled patient.  Continuous EEG monitoring is currently used at only a small percentage of hospitals in the United States.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital , is a not-for-profit, acute care facility with 275 licensed beds that is located in Rockville, Maryland.  Shady Grove offers a broad range of health services and is recognized for excellence in emergency care; high-risk obstetrical and neonatal care; cardiac and vascular interventional care; pediatric services including the first Pediatric Emergency Department in Montgomery County and the only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in the county; as well as a broad range of surgical specialties.  The Shady Grove Adventist Emergency Center in Germantown opened in 2006 and is providing increased access to emergency medical care for upcounty residents.  Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is part of Rockville, Maryland-based Adventist HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery system that is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland.

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