Cerebral autoregulation following head injury

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Object. The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between cerebral autoregulation, intracranial pressure (ICP), arterial blood pressure (ABP), and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) after head injury by using transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasonography.

Methods. Using ICP monitoring and TCD ultrasonography, the authors previously investigated whether the response of flow velocity (FV) in the middle cerebral artery to spontaneous variations in ABP or CPP provides reliable information about cerebral autoregulatory reserve. In the present study, this method was validated in 187 head-injured patients who were sedated and receiving mechanical ventilation. Waveforms of ICP, ABP, and FV were recorded over intervals lasting 20 to 120 minutes. Time-averaged mean FV and CPP were determined. The correlation coefficient index between FV and CPP (the mean index of autoregulation [Mx]) was calculated over 4-minute epochs and averaged for each investigation.

The distribution of averaged mean FV values converged with the shape of the autoregulatory curve, indicating lower (CPP < 55 mm Hg) and upper (CPP > 105 mm Hg) thresholds of autoregulation. The relationship between the Mx and either the CPP or ABP was depicted as a U-shaped curve. Autoregulation was disturbed in the presence of intracranial hypertension (ICP ≥ 25 mm Hg) and when mean ABP was too low (ABP < 75 mm Hg) or too high (ABP > 125 mm Hg). Disturbed autoregulation (p < 0.005) and higher ICP (p < 0.005) occurred more often in patients with unfavorable outcomes than in those with favorable outcomes.

Conclusions. Autoregulation not only is impaired when associated with a high ICP or low ABP, but it can also be disturbed by too high a CPP. The Mx can be used to guide intensive care therapy when CPP-oriented protocols are used.

Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Marek Czosnyka, Ph.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Box 167 Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, United Kingdom. email: MC141@medschl.cam.ac.uk.
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