Time course of serum neuron-specific enolase. A predictor of neurological outcome in patients resuscitated from cardiac arrest

W Schoerkhuber, H Kittler, F Sterz, W Behringer, M Holzer, M Frossard, S Spitzauer, A N Laggner
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 1999, 30 (8): 1598-603

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The prediction of neurological outcome in comatose cardiac arrest survivors has enormous ethical and socioeconomic implications. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the prognostic relevance of the time course of serum neuron-specific enolase (NSE) as a biochemical marker of hypoxic brain damage.

METHODS: Serial analysis of serum NSE levels was performed in 56 patients resuscitated from witnessed, nontraumatic, normothermic, in- or out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The neurological outcome was evaluated with the use of the cerebral performance category (CPC) within 6 months after restoration of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). The Mann-Whitney U test was used to compare patients with good (CPC 1 to 2) and bad (CPC 3 to 4) neurological outcome. The diagnostic performance at different time points after ROSC was described in terms of areas under receiver operating characteristic curves according to standard methods.

RESULTS: Patients with a bad neurological outcome (CPC 3 to 4) had significantly higher NSE levels than those with a good neurological outcome at 12 (P=0.004), 24 (P=0.04), 48 (P<0.001), and 72 hours (P<0.001) after ROSC. The maximum NSE level measured within 72 hours after ROSC was also significantly higher in patients with a bad neurological outcome (P<0.001). The NSE value at 72 hours after ROSC was the best predictor of neurological outcome (area under the curve=0.92+/-0.04). In addition, we also found a significant difference in the time course of NSE concentrations during the first 3 days after ROSC.

CONCLUSIONS: Serum NSE levels are valuable adjunctive parameters for assessing neurological outcome after cardiac arrest.

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