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Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg Pediatr Card Surg Annu. 2010;13(1):51-4. doi: 10.1053/j.pcsu.2010.01.005.

Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) should not be standard of care for postoperative management.

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Department of Surgery, Section of Cardiac Surgery, Division of Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5864, USA.


Neurologic dysfunction is a problem in patients with congenital heart disease. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) may provide a real-time window into cerebral oxygenation. Enthusiasm for NIRS has increased in hopes of reducing neurologic dysfunction. However, potential gains need to be evaluated relative to cost and potential detriment of intervention before routine implementation. Responding to data in ways that seem intuitively beneficial can be risky when the long-term impact is unknown. Many centers, and even entire countries, have adopted NIRS as standard of care. Available data suggest that multimodality monitoring, including NIRS, may be a useful adjunct. However, the current literature on the use of NIRS alone does not demonstrate improvement in neurologic outcome. Data correlating NIRS findings with indirect measures of neurologic outcome or mortality are limited. Although NIRS has promise for measuring regional tissue oxygen saturation, the lack of data demonstrating improved outcomes limits the support for wide-spread implementation.

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