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eISSN: 1643-3750

Utility of the neurologic intensive care evaluation (NICE) in detecting neurologic deficit after cardiac operations – a pilot study

Susan Baker, Kimberly Beauchamp, James Ballinghoff, Alison Escherich, Albert T. Cheung, Mark Stecker

Med Sci Monit 2003; 9(5): CR151-156

ID: 11063

Available online: 2003-05-22

Published: 2003-05-22

Background: Neurocognitive changes are common after cardiac operations. The acute post-operative period is a critical time when significant neurologic changes may be detected and appropriate
therapy initiated promptly. Formal neuropsychologic testing in this situation however is impractical so other means of early detection are required. The goal of this preliminary study was to determine whether simple, standardized, serial nursing neurologic evaluations using
the Neurologic Intensive Care Evaluation (NICE) could be helpful in screening patients for neurologic injury in the immediate post-operative period.
Material/Methods: Details of the intra-operative and post-operative anesthetic management were obtained during report and nurses subsequently scored acute post-operative patients in the CTSICU using
the NICE every half hour for the first five hours. Finally, a chart review was performed to determine the neurologic outcome of the patients.
Results: The time to achieve the lower NICE scores which reflect mainly brainstem function was the same whereas the time to achieve NICE scores>4 was prolonged in patients with neurocognitive dysfunction. The effect of intra-operative factors on the times to achieve NICE scores was different for the higher and lower scores. The times to reach NICE scores correlated with outcome variables including the time in ICU and time of intubation.
Conclusions: Standardized, serial nursing neurologic assessments of post-operative cardiac patients may be a useful tool for early identification of patients with neurologic injury. They may also provide
useful information complementing the data obtained from detailed neuropsychologic testing on the neurologic effects of cardiac operations.

Keywords: Adult, Cardiac Surgical Procedures - adverse effects, Intensive Care, Neuropsychological Tests, Pilot Projects, Postoperative Complications - diagnosis, Postoperative Period, Trauma, Nervous System - diagnosis, Trauma, Nervous System - etiology