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Induced Hypothermia for Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy: Pathophysiology, Current Treatment, and Nursing Considerations

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Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) can lead to devastating neurodevelopmental consequences such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, and significant developmental delays. HIE in the newborn is often the result of a hypoxic event, such as uterine rupture, placental abruption, or cord prolapse. Biphasic brain injury occurs in HIE. The first phase involves activation of the sympathetic nervous system as a compensatory mechanism. The second phase, known as reperfusion brain injury, occurs hours later. Induced hypothermia, a neuroprotective strategy for treating HIE, targets the second phase to prevent reperfusion injury. NICU nurses are in a unique position to detect patient instability and to maintain the therapeutic interventions that contribute to the healing process. This article highlights the significant role nurses play in the management of infants diagnosed with HIE who are treated with induced hypothermia.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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