The relationship of blood flow velocity fluctuations to intracranial pressure B waves

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✓ Intracranial pressure (ICP) and continuous transcranial Doppler ultrasound signals were monitored in 20 head-injured patients and simultaneous synchronous fluctuations of middle cerebral artery (MCA) velocity and B waves of the ICP were observed. Continuous simultaneous monitoring of MCA velocity, ICP, arterial blood pressure, and expired CO2 revealed that both velocity waves and B waves occurred despite a constant CO2 concentration in ventilated patients and were usually not accompanied by fluctuations in the arterial blood pressure. Additional recordings from the extracranial carotid artery during the ICP B waves revealed similar synchronous fluctuations in the velocity of this artery, strongly supporting the hypothesis that blood flow fluctuations produce the velocity waves. The ratio between ICP wave amplitude and velocity wave amplitude was highly correlated to the ICP (r = 0.81, p < 0.001). Velocity waves of similar characteristics and frequency, but usually of shorter duration, were observed in seven of 10 normal subjects in whom MCA velocity was recorded for 1 hour. The findings in this report strongly suggest that B waves in the ICP are a secondary effect of vasomotor waves, producing cerebral blood flow fluctuations that become amplified in the ICP tracing, in states of reduced intracranial compliance.

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Contributor Notes

Dr. Newell is a recipient of the William P. Van Wagenen fellowship awarded in 1989 by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and also the Allied Signal Corporation/National Stroke Association Research fellowship from 1990 to 1993.Address reprint requests to: David W. Newell, M.D., Department of Neurological Surgery, Harborview Medical Center, 325 9th Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98104.
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