Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
(Cerebral Hypoxia; HIE)
Pronounced: hye-POK-sik is-KEM-ik en-sef-a-lo-path-ee
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition in which the entire brain does not receive enough oxygen, but isn’t completely deprived. This particular condition refers to an oxygen deficiency to the brain as a whole, rather than a part of the brain. Although the term most often refers to injury sustained by new born infants, HIE can be used to described any injury from low oxygen.
HIE can be fatal. Within as little as five minutes of oxygen deprivation, brain cells can begin dying. The disease can also cause long-term damage, including mental retardation
Blood Supply to the Brain
There are a variety of causes of HIE. Any injury and many health conditions can potentially cause oxygen deprivation to the brain. Some common causes are:
- Injury or complication during birth
- Respiratory failure
- Blocked or ruptured blood vessel
- Carbon monoxide
Any injury, complication, or health condition that causes the brain to have a reduction in blood flow and oxygen deprivation is a risk factor for HIE.
The doctor must work quickly to perform a physical exam. Typically, the history is the most important factor in making the diagnosis.
Tests may include the following:
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the condition, as well as the severity of the damage to the brain. Treatment options include:
- Life-sustaining treatment—If brain function has stopped but damage is not yet extensive, life-sustaining treatment is administered.
- Mechanical ventilation
In most cases, HIE is unexpected and cannot be prevented. To prevent significant or long-term brain damage once the oxygen supply has been reduced, CPR
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Last reviewed January 2009 by
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