Frequency-domain vs continuous-wave near-infrared spectroscopy devices: a comparison of clinically viable monitors in controlled hypoxia

J Clin Monit Comput. 2017 Oct;31(5):967-974. doi: 10.1007/s10877-016-9942-5. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


The Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has not been adopted as a mainstream monitoring modality in acute neurosurgical care due to concerns about its reliability and consistency. However, improvements in NIRS parameter recovery techniques are now available that may improve the quantitative accuracy of NIRS for this clinical context. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the abilities of a continuous-wave (CW) NIRS device with a similarly clinically viable NIRS device utilising a frequency-domain (FD) parameter recovery technique in detecting changes in cerebral tissue saturation during stepwise increases of experimentally induced hypoxia. Nine healthy individuals (6M/3F) underwent a dynamic end-tidal forced manipulation of their expiratory gases to induce a stepwise induced hypoxia. The minimum end-tidal oxygen partial pressure (EtO2) achieved was 40 mm Hg. Simultaneous neurological and extra-cranial tissue NIRS reading were obtained during this protocol by both tested devices. Both devices detected significant changes in cerebral tissue saturation during the induction of hypoxia (CW 9.8 ± 2.3 %; FD 7.0 ± 3.4 %; Wilcoxon signed rank test P < 0.01 for both devices). No significant difference was observed between the saturation changes observed by either device (P = 0.625). An observably greater degree of noise was noticed in parameters recovered by the FD device, and both demonstrated equally variable baseline readings (Coefficient of variance 8.4 and 9.7 % for the CW and FD devices, respectively) between individuals tested. No advantageous difference was observed in parameters recovered from the FD device compared with those detected by CW.

Keywords: Cerebral blood flow; Continuous-wave near-infrared spectroscopy; Frequency-domain near-infrared spectroscopy; Head injury.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Computers
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia*
  • Male
  • Oxygen
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Partial Pressure
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods*


  • Oxygen