Spectral Electroencephalogram Analysis for the Evaluation of Encephalopathy Grade in Children With Acute Liver Failure

Craig A. Press, Lindsey Morgan, Michele Mills, Cynthia V Stack, Joshua L Goldstein, Estella M Alonso, Mark Wainwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Spectral electroencephalogram analysis is a method for automated analysis of electroencephalogram patterns, which can be performed at the bedside. We sought to determine the utility of spectral electroencephalogram for grading hepatic encephalopathy in children with acute liver failure. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Tertiary care pediatric hospital. Patients: Patients between 0 and 18 years old who presented with acute liver failure and were admitted to the PICU. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: Electroencephalograms were analyzed by spectral analysis including total power, relative δ, relative θ, relative α, relative β, θ-to-Δ ratio, and α-to-Δ ratio. Normal values and ranges were first derived using normal electroencephalograms from 70 children of 0-18 years old. Age had a significant effect on each variable measured (p < 0.03). Electroencephalograms from 33 patients with acute liver failure were available for spectral analysis. The median age was 4.3 years, 14 of 33 were male, and the majority had an indeterminate etiology of acute liver failure. Neuroimaging was performed in 26 cases and was normal in 20 cases (77%). The majority (64%) survived, and 82% had a good outcome with a score of 1-3 on the Pediatric Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended at the time of discharge. Hepatic encephalopathy grade correlated with the qualitative visual electroencephalogram scores assigned by blinded neurophysiologists (rs = 0.493; p < 0.006). Spectral electroencephalogram characteristics varied significantly with the qualitative electroencephalogram classification (p < 0.05). Spectral electroencephalogram variables including relative Δ, relative θ, relative α, θ-to-Δ ratio, and α-to-Δ ratio all significantly varied with the qualitative electroencephalogram (p < 0.025). Moderate to severe hepatic encephalopathy was correlated with a total power of less than or equal to 50% of normal for children 0-3 years old, and with a relative θ of less than or equal to 50% normal for children more than 3 years old (p > 0.05). Spectral electroencephalogram classification correlated with outcome (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Spectral electroencephalogram analysis can be used to evaluate even young patients for hepatic encephalopathy and correlates with outcome. Spectral electroencephalogram may allow improved quantitative and reproducible assessment of hepatic encephalopathy grade in children with acute liver failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • acute liver failure
  • electroencephalography
  • encephalopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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