Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) allows for continuous, non-invasive monitoring of end-organ tissue oxygenation. The use of NIRS, cerebral NIRS (cNIRS) in particular, in neonatal care has increased significantly over the last few years. This dynamic monitoring technique provides real-time information on the cerebral and haemodynamic status of the neonate and has the potential to serve as an important adjunct to patient care with some centres routinely utilising cNIRS to aid decision-making at the bedside. cNIRS values may be influenced by many variables, including cardiac, respiratory and metabolic parameters, and therefore it is essential to understand the pathophysiology behind alterations in cNIRS values. Correct interpretation is required to direct appropriate patient-specific interventions. This article aims to assist clinicians in deciphering cNIRS values by providing an overview of potential causes of fluctuations in cNIRS values, illustrated by common clinical scenarios, with particular emphasis on the preterm infant.
Keywords: NIRS; cerebral oxygenation; end-organ tissue oxygenation; individualised patient care; near-infrared spectroscopy; neonate; preterm.