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Early detection of acute brain injury (ABI) is critical to intensive care unit (ICU) patient management and intervention to decrease major complications. Head CT (HCT) is the standard of care for the assessment of ABI in ICU patients; however, it has limited sensitivity compared to MRI. We retrospectively compared the ability of ultra-low-field portable MR (ULF-pMR) and head HCT, acquired within 24 h of each other, to detect ABI in ICU patients supported on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). A total of 17 adult patients (median age 55 years; 47% male) were included in the analysis. Of the 17 patients assessed, ABI was not observed on either ULF-pMR or HCT in eight patients (47%). ABI was observed in the remaining nine patients with a total of 10 events (8 ischemic, 2 hemorrhagic). Of the eight ischemic events, ULF-pMR observed all eight, while HCT only observed four events. Regarding hemorrhagic stroke, ULF-pMR observed only one of them, while HCT observed both. ULF-pMR outperformed HCT for the detection of ABI, especially ischemic injury, and may offer diagnostic advantages for ICU patients. The lack of sensitivity to hemorrhage may improve with modification of the imaging acquisition program.


acute brain injury, critical care, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, neuroimaging, portable MR

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