Objective: There is controversy regarding the optimal pH strategy during deep hypothermic bypass in children. We directly visualized the effects of the pH-stat and alpha-stat strategy on cerebral microcirculation (including leukocyte/endothelial cell interactions) in a piglet model using intravital fluorescence microscopy.
Methods: Two groups of 5 piglets (mean weight 9.6+/-1.3 kg) with a cranial window over parietal cerebral cortex underwent 10-minute normothermic bypass, 40-minute cooling on cardiopulmonary bypass ([CPB] Hct 30%, 100 mL/kg/min), 60-minute circulatory arrest at 15 degrees C, and 40-minute rewarming with alpha-stat (group alpha) or pH-stat (group pH). Plasma was labeled with fluorescein-ITC-dextran for assessment of microvascular diameter. Circulating leukocytes were labeled and observed in postcapillary venules for adhesion before and up to 120 minutes after CPB. Cerebral tissue oxygenation was evaluated by quantification of NADH autofluorescence, which increases during ischemia.
Results: At the end of normothermic bypass diameter of cerebrocortical microvessels increased to 116+/-9% (alpha) versus 119+/-10% (pH) of pre-CPB baseline values. During cooling microvascular diameter decreased in group alpha and significantly increased in group pH (89+/-11% (alpha) versus 132+/-13% (pH) at the end of cooling; P<0.001). During the first 10 minutes of rewarming, the cerebral microvascular diameter was significantly larger when the pH stat strategy was used. Tissue oxygenation at the end of cooling was significantly greater in the pH-stat group (P=0.008). On reperfusion, the pH-stat strategy resulted in significantly more rapid return of tissue oxygenation toward baseline although at the end of rewarming the metabolic recovery was complete in both groups. The whole body lactate during early rewarming was significantly less with the pH stat strategy. There was no significant difference between the groups regarding the number of adherent leukocytes throughout the time course of the experiment.
Conclusions: pH-stat management increases tissue oxygenation during deep hypothermic bypass and after circulatory arrest. Leukocyte/endothelial cell interactions during hypothermic bypass are mild with both alpha-stat and pH-stat.