Moderate hypothermia has been reported to be effective in the treatment of postischemic brain edema. The effect of hypothermia on cerebral hemodynamics is a matter of controversial discussion in literature. Clinical studies have yet to be performed in patients with ischemic stroke after induction of hypothermia.
Measurements during mild hypothermia (33–34°C) were made in six patients with severe ischemic stroke involving the middle cerebral artery territory. Hypothermia was induced as soon as possible and maintained for 48 to 72 hours. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) were estimated by a new double-indicator dilution method. Measurements of CBF were made during normothermia, immediately after induction of hypothermia, at the end of hypothermia, and after rewarming. A total of 19 measurements of CBF and jugular bulb O2 saturation were made. Immediately after induction of hypothermia, CBF decreased in all patients. During late hypothermia, CBF improved in patients who survived but remained diminished in the two patients who died. Reduced CMRO2 levels were observed during all phases of hypothermia in all but one case.
Preliminary oberservations indicate that moderate hypothermia seems to reduce CMRO2 Immediately after induction of hypothermia, CBF may decrease in all patients. During late hypothermia CBF seems to recover in patients with good outcome but remains diminished in patients who die. Serial bedside CBF measurements with the new double-indicator dilution technique may be useful to describe cerebral hemodynamic characteristics in patients with severe ischemic stroke during hypothermia.