Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
(Cerebral Hypoxia; HIE)
How to Say It: hye-POK-sik is-KEM-ik en-sef-a-lo-path-ee
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a brain injury. It happens when the brain does not get enough oxygen.
HIE can cause be deadly. Brain cells start to die after four minutes without oxygen.
Many health problems can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain. Some common ones are:
The risk of HIE is higher in people who have an injury or health problem that causes the brain to have a drop in blood flow and oxygen.
Problems may be mild to severe, such as:
A physical exam will be done. A health history is the biggest factor in making the diagnosis.
Blood tests may be done.
Pictures may need to be taken of your body. This can be done with:
Your brain and spinal cord may be tested. This can be done with:
Your heart function may also be tested.
Treatment depends on the cause of HIE. It also depends on how severe the damage is to the brain.
You may have:
There are no known guidelines to prevent HIE.
Brain Injury Association of America
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Ontario Brain Injury Association
Busl KM, Greer DM. Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury: pathophysiology, neuropathology and mechanisms. NeuroRehabilitation. 2010;26(1):5-13.
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Neurographics website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed October 1, 2020.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Accessed October 1, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 10/1/2020
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.