Background:

Preterm infants who develop posthemorrhagic ventricular dilatation (PHVD) have a high risk of cognitive and motor disability. No clinical intervention has been proven to reduce neurodevelopmental disability in such infants. We investigated whether drainage, irrigation, and fibrinolytic therapy (DRIFT), which aims to lower pressure, distortion, free iron, and cytokines, reduces death or severe disability in PHVD.

Methods:

We randomly assigned 77 preterm infants with PHVD to either DRIFT or standard treatment (ie tapping off cerebrospinal fluid to control excessive expansion). Severe disability was assessed at 2 years' corrected age and included severe sensorimotor disability and cognitive disability (<55 on the Bayley Mental Development Index).

Results:

Of 39 infants assigned to DRIFT, 21 (54%) died or were severely disabled versus 27 of 38 (71%) in the standard group (adjusted odds ratio 0.25 [95% confidence interval: 0.08–0.82]). Among the survivors, 11 of 35 (31%) in the DRIFT group had severe cognitive disability versus 19 of 32 (59%) in the standard group (adjusted odds ratio: 0.17 [95% confidence interval: 0.05–0.57]). Median Mental Development Index was 68 with DRIFT and <50 with standard care. Severe sensorimotor disability was not significantly reduced.

Conclusions:

Despite an increase in secondary intraventricular bleeding, DRIFT reduced severe cognitive disability in survivors and overall death or severe disability.

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