Twelve children in the UK are born with congenital heart disease (CHD) every day and a third of these will require emergency surgery during infancy. 

Of these patients, approximately a third will also require hypothermic circulatory arrest, which is when blood flow is temporarily suspended under very cold body temperatures. 

At cold temperatures, cellular activity levels slow significantly so blood circulation can be stopped for up to 40 minutes without harm to the patient. This allows surgery to safely be performed on the aorta, the largest artery of the body which carries blood from the heart to the circulatory system, when clamping to contain blood flow is either not possible or not desirable.  

It’s a risky surgery with around 44% of children developing a degree of newly acquired brain damage. The risk and severity of brain damage is highest amongst those who receive aortic arch repair with deep hypothermic circulatory arrest.  

This may be avoidable with better perioperative monitoring via electroencephlography, the recording of brain activity. 

This research study looks at the feasibility of electroencephlography and then assesses the benefits of perioperative monitoring to prevent further brain damage. 

The study’s results will benefit 74 patients with CHD each year, especially those receiving aortic arch repair. 

Assessments will take place 22 to 26 months post- surgery, to determine the benefits of electroencephlography monitoring, rather than purposefully slowing a patient’s blood flow to repair the aortic arch.