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Energy-requiring cell functions in the ischemic brain

Their critical supply and possible inhibition in protective therapy

Jens Astrup

✓ The energy-requiring cell functions in the brain are described. The role of specific inhibition of these functions, and their critical low-supply levels of blood flow and oxygen are reviewed in relation to clinical management of focal and complete global cerebral ischemia.

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Jan Plougmann, Jens Astrup, Jens Pedersen and Carsten Gyldensted

✓ Xenon-enhanced computerized tomography (CT) is well suited for measurements of cerebral blood flow (CBF) in head-injured patients. Previous studies indicated divergent results on whether inhalation of xenon may cause a clinically relevant increase in intracranial pressure (ICP). The authors employed Xe-enhanced CT/CBF measurements to study the effect of 20 minutes of inhalation of 33% xenon in oxygen on ICP, cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), and arteriovenous oxygen difference (AVDO2) in 13 patients 3 days (mean 1 to 5 days) after severe head injury (Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤ 7). The patients were moderately hyperventilated (mean PaCO2 4.3 kPa or 32.3 mm Hg). Six patients were studied before and during additional hyperventilation. All 13 patients reacted with an increase in ICP and 11 with a decrease in CPP. The mean ICP increment was 6.9 ± 7.7 (range 2 to 17 mm Hg). The mean CPP decrement was −9.7 ± −14.6 (range 17 to 47 mm Hg). The time course of the ICP changes indicated that ICP increased rapidly during the first 5 to 6 minutes, then declined to a plateau (peak-plateau type in four of 13 patients), remained at a plateau (plateau type in six of 13), or continued to increase in three of 13, indicating individual variance in xenon reactivity. Additional hyperventilation had no effect on the xenon-induced increments in ICP but these occurred at lower ICP and higher CPP baseline levels. The AVDO2 values, an index of flow in relation to metabolism, indicated a complex effect of xenon on CBF as well as on metabolism.

This study indicates that xenon inhalation for Xe-CT CBF measurements in head-injured patients according to our protocol causes clinically significant increments in ICP and decrements in CPP. It is suggested that the effect of xenon is analogous to anesthesia induction. Individual variations were observed indicating possible individual tolerance, possible influence of type and extent of the cerebral injury, disturbances in cerebrovascular reactivity, and possible influence of medication. These effects of xenon suggest that hyperventilation should be ensured in patients with evidence of reduced compliance or high ICP. On the other hand, inhalation of stable xenon is not believed to pose a risk because no signs of cerebral oligemia or ischemia were indicated in the AVDO2 values.