There are more than 32,000 babies diagnosed with congenital heart defects each year in the United States alone. A quarter of these newborns will undergo some type of invasive procedure, surgery, or catheterization in the first year of life. The tremendous advancements of pediatric cardiology in the last 30 years means that today more than 99% of these patients are expected to survive, with the prospect that with each coming year the advancement of technology, clinical training, and practices will further reduce mortality. Logically, the next frontier in advancing care for these especially vulnerable children will be improving the quality of life after they leave the hospital.
There is a tremendous body of literature demonstrating that the duration of ICU stays or critical events such as cardiac arrest affect neurophysiological functioning, which frequently leads to significant developmental deficits in pediatric cardiac patients. However, until recently there was a dearth of care specific bedside markers that have direct relation to neurologic outcome.
An ongoing study presented at the 14th Annual Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society by clinical researchers in Toronto’s SickKids hospital is aiming to change this by analyzing the relationship between markers routinely collected in the postoperative ICU care of neonates and their brain development. One of the markers the study specifically analyzed was the Etiometry IDO2 index; an index designed to bring the attention of clinicians to patients experiencing inadequate oxygen delivery, which for a long time has been suspected as an important pathway leading to brain injury. The study demonstrated strong association with the IDO2 index in the first postoperative days and brain white matter injury.
Studies like this are a tremendous drive for us as a team to continue our quest in developing analytics that can help physicians reduce patient harm. As a CTO, I know how easy it is to get buried in the billions of data points we use in the validation of our algorithms and miss the big picture. However, seeing medical researchers utilize our inventions in identifying causes for patient harm, reminds us that behind each data point there is a human being, and we owe it to them to keep learning and keep improving.