Does induced hypertension reduce cerebral ischaemia within the traumatized human brain?


Recent changes in published guidelines for the management of patients with severe head injury are based on data showing that aggressive maintenance of cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) can worsen outcome due to extracranial complications of therapy. However, it remains unclear whether CPP augmentation could reduce cerebral ischaemia, a finding which might prompt the search for CPP augmentation protocols that avoid these extracranial complications. We studied 10 healthy volunteers and 20 patients within 6 days of closed head injury. All subjects underwent imaging of cerebral blood flow (CBF), blood volume (CBV), oxygen metabolism (CMRO2) and oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) using 15O PET. In addition, for patients, the EEG power ratio index (PRI), burst suppression ratio and somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP) were obtained and CPP was increased from 68 +/- 4 to 90 +/- 4 mmHg using an infusion of norepinephrine and measurements were repeated. Following elevation of CPP, CBF and CBV were increased and CMRO2 and OEF were reduced (P < 0.001 for all comparisons). Regions with a reduction in CMRO2 were associated with the greatest reduction in OEF (r2 = 0.3; P < 0.0001). Although CPP elevation produced a significant fall in the ischaemic brain volume (IBV) (from 15 +/- 16 to 5 +/- 4 ml; P < 0.01) and improved flow metabolism coupling, the IBV was small and clinically insignificant in the majority of these patients. However, the reduction in IBV was directly related to the baseline IBV (r2 = 0.97; P < 0.001) and patients with large baseline IBV showed substantial and clinically significant reductions. CPP augmentation increased the EEG PRI (5.0 +/- 1.5 versus 4.3 +/- 1.4, P < 0.01), implying an overall decrease in neural activity, but these changes did not correlate with the reduction in CMRO2 and there was no change in SEP cortical amplitude (N20-P27). These data provide support for recent changes in recommended CPP levels for head injury management across populations of patients with significant head injury. However, they do not provide guidance on whether the intervention may be more appropriate at earlier stages after injury, or in patients selected because of high baseline IBV. It also remains unclear whether CPP values below 65 mmHg can be safely used in this population. Clarification of the significance of a reduction in CMRO2 and neuronal electrical function will require further study.