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Marek Czosnyka, Marcella Balestreri, Luzius Steiner, Piotr Smielewski, Peter J. Hutchinson, Basil Matta, and John D. Pickard

Object. The object of this study was to investigate whether a failure of cerebrovascular autoregulation contributes to the relationship between age and outcome in patients following head injury.

Methods. Data obtained from continuous bedside monitoring of intracranial pressure (ICP), arterial blood pressure (ABP), and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP = ABP — ICP) in 358 patients with head injuries and intermittent monitoring of transcranial Doppler blood flow velocity (FV) in the middle cerebral artery in 237 patients were analyzed retrospectively. Indices used to describe cerebral autoregulation and pressure reactivity were calculated as correlation coefficients between slow waves of systolic FV and CPP (autoregulation index [ARI]) and between ABP and ICP (pressure reactivity index [PRI]).

Older patients had worse outcomes after brain trauma than younger patients (p = 0.00001), despite the fact that the older patients had higher initial Glasgow Coma Scale scores (p = 0.006). When age was considered as an independent variable, it appeared that ICP decreased with age (p = 0.005), resulting in an increasing mean CPP (p = 0.0005). Blood FV was not dependent on age (p = 0.58). Indices of autoregulation and pressure reactivity demonstrated a deterioration in cerebrovascular control with advancing age (PRI: p = 0.003; ARI: p = 0.007).

Conclusions. An age-related decline in cerebrovascular autoregulation was associated with a relative deterioration in outcome in elderly patients following head trauma.

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Eric A. Schmidt, Marek Czosnyka, Luzius A. Steiner, Marcella Balestreri, Piotr Smielewski, Stefan K. Piechnik, Basil F. Matta, and John D. Pickard

Object. The aim of this study was to assess the asymmetry of autoregulation between the left and right sides of the brain by using bilateral transcranial Doppler ultrasonography in a cohort of patients with head injuries.

Methods. Ninety-six patients with head injuries comprised the study population. All significant intracranial mass lesions were promptly removed. The patients were given medications to induce sedation and paralysis, and artificial ventilation. Arterial blood pressure (ABP) and intracranial pressure (ICP) were monitored in an invasive manner. A strategy based on the patient's cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP = ABP − ICP) was applied: CPP was maintained at a level higher than 70 mm Hg and ICP at a level lower than 25 mm Hg. The left and right middle cerebral arteries were insonated daily, and bilateral flow velocities (FVs) were recorded. The correlation coefficient between the CPP and FV, termed Mx, was calculated and time-averaged over each recording period on both sides. An Mx close to 1 signified that slow fluctuations in CPP produced synchronized slow changes in FV, indicating a defective autoregulation. An Mx close to 0 indicated preserved autoregulation. Computerized tomography scans in all patients were reviewed; the side on which the major brain lesion was located was noted and the extent of the midline shift was determined. Outcome was measured 6 months after discharge. The left—right difference in the Mx between the hemispheres was significantly higher in patients who died than in those who survived (0.16 ± 0.04 compared with 0.08 ± 0.01; p = 0.04). The left—right difference in the Mx was correlated with a midline shift (r = −0.42; p = 0.03). Autoregulation was worse on the side of the brain where the lesion was located (p < 0.035).

Conclusions. The left—right difference in autoregulation is significantly associated with a fatal outcome. Autoregulation in the brain is worse on the side ipsilateral to the lesion and on the side of expansion in cases in which there is a midline shift.

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Magdalena Hiler, Marek Czosnyka, Peter Hutchinson, Marcella Balestreri, Peter Smielewski, Basil Matta, and John D. Pickard


The authors explored the relationship between computerized tomography (CT) scan findings and intracranial pressure (ICP) measurements obtained in the first 24 hours of monitoring to identify parameters predicting outcome in patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).


Intracranial pressure, mean arterial blood pressure, cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), and pressure reactivity index were measured continuously in 126 patients with severe TBI who were admitted to a neuroscience critical care unit. Mean values in the initial 24 hours of monitoring and in the total period of monitoring were compared with types of injury categorized on the basis of the initial CT scan according to the classification of Marshall, et al., and with Glasgow Outcome Scale scores.

The initial CT scan classification correlated significantly but weakly with ICP measured during the first 24 hours of monitoring (p = 0.036) but not with mean ICP over the total time of intensive care. Both midline shift and the ratio of frontal horn diameter to internal diameter correlated with ICP in the first 24 hours (p < 0.007) and with ICP over the total monitoring period (p < 0.03). Outcome score correlated with initial CT scan findings (p = 0.018), ICP over the total monitoring period (p < 0.0023), pressure reactivity over the total monitoring period (p < 0.0002), and pressure reactivity in the first 24 hours (p < 0.0001) but not with ICP in the first 24 hours. Patients with disturbed pressure reactivity in the first 24 hours after injury had a significantly higher mortality rate than patients with intact pressure reactivity (28.6% compared with 9.5%; p < 0.001).


Patients with severe TBI who have early loss of autoregulation have a worse prognosis. Mean ICP values in patients with diffuse TBI cannot be predicted by using the Marshall CT scan classification.

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Christian Zweifel, Andrea Lavinio, Luzius A. Steiner, Danila Radolovich, Peter Smielewski, Ivan Timofeev, Magdalena Hiler, Marcella Balestreri, Peter J. Kirkpatrick, John D. Pickard, Peter Hutchinson, and Marek Czosnyka


Cerebrovascular pressure reactivity is the ability of cerebral vessels to respond to changes in transmural pressure. A cerebrovascular pressure reactivity index (PRx) can be determined as the moving correlation coefficient between mean intracranial pressure (ICP) and mean arterial blood pressure.


The authors analyzed a database consisting of 398 patients with head injuries who underwent continuous monitoring of cerebrovascular pressure reactivity. In 298 patients, the PRx was compared with a transcranial Doppler ultrasonography assessment of cerebrovascular autoregulation (the mean index [Mx]), in 17 patients with the PET–assessed static rate of autoregulation, and in 22 patients with the cerebral metabolic rate for O2. Patient outcome was assessed 6 months after injury.


There was a positive and significant association between the PRx and Mx (R2 = 0.36, p < 0.001) and with the static rate of autoregulation (R2 = 0.31, p = 0.02). A PRx > 0.35 was associated with a high mortality rate (> 50%). The PRx showed significant deterioration in refractory intracranial hypertension, was correlated with outcome, and was able to differentiate patients with good outcome, moderate disability, severe disability, and death. The graph of PRx compared with cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) indicated a U–shaped curve, suggesting that too low and too high CPP was associated with a disturbance in pressure reactivity. Such an optimal CPP was confirmed in individual cases and a greater difference between current and optimal CPP was associated with worse outcome (for patients who, on average, were treated below optimal CPP [R2 = 0.53, p < 0.001] and for patients whose mean CPP was above optimal CPP [R2 = −0.40, p < 0.05]). Following decompressive craniectomy, pressure reactivity initially worsened (median −0.03 [interquartile range −0.13 to 0.06] to 0.14 [interquartile range 0.12–0.22]; p < 0.01) and improved in the later postoperative course. After therapeutic hypothermia, in 17 (70.8%) of 24 patients in whom rewarming exceeded the brain temperature threshold of 37°C, ICP remained stable, but the average PRx increased to 0.32 (p < 0.0001), indicating significant derangement in cerebrovascular reactivity.


The PRx is a secondary index derived from changes in ICP and arterial blood pressure and can be used as a surrogate marker of cerebrovascular impairment. In view of an autoregulation–guided CPP therapy, a continuous determination of a PRx is feasible, but its value has to be evaluated in a prospective controlled trial.