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Andrea Fanelli, Frederick W. Vonberg, Kerri L. LaRovere, Brian K. Walsh, Edward R. Smith, Shenandoah Robinson, Robert C. Tasker and Thomas Heldt

OBJECTIVE

In the search for a reliable, cooperation-independent, noninvasive alternative to invasive intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring in children, various approaches have been proposed, but at the present time none are capable of providing fully automated, real-time, calibration-free, continuous and accurate ICP estimates. The authors investigated the feasibility and validity of simultaneously monitored arterial blood pressure (ABP) and middle cerebral artery (MCA) cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFV) waveforms to derive noninvasive ICP (nICP) estimates.

METHODS

Invasive ICP and ABP recordings were collected from 12 pediatric and young adult patients (aged 2–25 years) undergoing such monitoring as part of routine clinical care. Additionally, simultaneous transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasonography–based MCA CBFV waveform measurements were performed at the bedside in dedicated data collection sessions. The ABP and MCA CBFV waveforms were analyzed in the context of a mathematical model, linking them to the cerebral vasculature’s biophysical properties and ICP. The authors developed and automated a waveform preprocessing, signal-quality evaluation, and waveform-synchronization “pipeline” in order to test and objectively validate the algorithm’s performance. To generate one nICP estimate, 60 beats of ABP and MCA CBFV waveform data were analyzed. Moving the 60-beat data window forward by one beat at a time (overlapping data windows) resulted in 39,480 ICP-to-nICP comparisons across a total of 44 data-collection sessions (studies). Moving the 60-beat data window forward by 60 beats at a time (nonoverlapping data windows) resulted in 722 paired ICP-to-nICP comparisons.

RESULTS

Greater than 80% of all nICP estimates fell within ± 7 mm Hg of the reference measurement. Overall performance in the nonoverlapping data window approach gave a mean error (bias) of 1.0 mm Hg, standard deviation of the error (precision) of 5.1 mm Hg, and root-mean-square error of 5.2 mm Hg. The associated mean and median absolute errors were 4.2 mm Hg and 3.3 mm Hg, respectively. These results were contingent on ensuring adequate ABP and CBFV signal quality and required accurate hydrostatic pressure correction of the measured ABP waveform in relation to the elevation of the external auditory meatus. Notably, the procedure had no failed attempts at data collection, and all patients had adequate TCD data from at least one hemisphere. Last, an analysis of using study-by-study averaged nICP estimates to detect a measured ICP > 15 mm Hg resulted in an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.83, with a sensitivity of 71% and specificity of 86% for a detection threshold of nICP = 15 mm Hg.

CONCLUSIONS

This nICP estimation algorithm, based on ABP and bedside TCD CBFV waveform measurements, performs in a manner comparable to invasive ICP monitoring. These findings open the possibility for rational, point-of-care treatment decisions in pediatric patients with suspected raised ICP undergoing intensive care.