Lutheran Children’s Hospital offers new cooling therapy for newborns

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News release from the Lutheran Children’s Hospital:

Lutheran Children’s Hospital Offers New Cooling Therapy for Newborns to Reduce Brain Damage
LCH is the only hospital in the region to provide this care

(November 6, 2013) – Newborns deprived of oxygen to the brain prior to or during delivery may benefit from hypothermic cooling and rewarming therapy provided within the neonatal intensive care unit of Lutheran Children’s Hospital. Historically used in adult patients, controlled hypothermia is now available for infants. Evidence demonstrates the newborn system has the potential for the brain to heal with this therapy.

The neonatal intensive care unit at Lutheran Children’s Hospital is the first in northeastern Indiana to deliver this potentially life-changing care to the area’s littlest patients. While this therapy doesn’t help all infants with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, it does offer these newborns a chance at better outcomes.

“We are glad this therapy is now delivered in Fort Wayne,” said James Cameron, MD, medical director, neonatal intensive care unit, Lutheran Children’s Hospital. “We can now avoid the long transport to other centers which results in a delay in initiating the therapy and potentially jeopardizing outcomes.”

The treatment is extremely time sensitive and it provides the best outcomes for newborns less than six hours old. A neonatologist will discuss the benefits and risks with the baby’s parents prior to initiating therapy.

The Arctic Sun® Temperature Management System consists of two components: a set of pads that cover portions of the patient’s skin, and a control system that circulates temperature-controlled water. The system checks the patient’s temperature and very accurately brings it to a target temperature. The mechanism of the cooling therapy is to slow the metabolism of the brain cells that causes the long-term damage. The goal is to reduce mortality and neurodevelopmental disability resulting from hypoxic events. This has become the standard of care for these types of newborns.

“During the therapy, all other treatments will continue,” said Dr. Cameron. “If desired, we could even take the infant down to radiology for testing. Treatments are not delayed. On the contrary, they are likely expedited as the sooner the infant is started in the program, the better the chance for a positive outcome.”

Hypoxic ischemic brain injury in newborns may result from:

  • placental abruption
  • prolapsed cord
  • severe shoulder dystocia
  • hemorrhage
  • prolonged delivery room resuscitation

Even before the opening of LCH in July, 1999, Lutheran was already building a reputation regionwide for providing families easy access to specialized pediatric care that had historically only been available in larger metropolitan areas such as Indianapolis and Chicago. Today, LCH teams with 68 pediatricians from across the region and state who practice in 20 areas of pediatric specialty. This “hospital within a hospital” offers an environment filled with imagination and color. The award-winning design of the tree house elevator, specially decorated rooms, hallways and waiting areas invite children and their families to focus on something other than the often unpleasant purpose of their visit.

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