Detection of Brain Hypoxia Based on Noninvasive Optical Monitoring of Cerebral Blood Flow with Diffuse Correlation Spectroscopy

Neurocrit Care. 2019 Feb;30(1):72-80. doi: 10.1007/s12028-018-0573-1.


Background: Diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) noninvasively permits continuous, quantitative, bedside measurements of cerebral blood flow (CBF). To test whether optical monitoring (OM) can detect decrements in CBF producing cerebral hypoxia, we applied the OM technique continuously to probe brain-injured patients who also had invasive brain tissue oxygen (PbO2) monitors.

Methods: Comatose patients with a Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) < 8) were enrolled in an IRB-approved protocol after obtaining informed consent from the legally authorized representative. Patients underwent 6-8 h of daily monitoring. Brain PbO2 was measured with a Clark electrode. Absolute CBF was monitored with DCS, calibrated by perfusion measurements based on intravenous indocyanine green bolus administration. Variation of optical CBF and mean arterial pressure (MAP) from baseline was measured during periods of brain hypoxia (defined as a drop in PbO2 below 19 mmHg for more than 6 min from baseline (PbO2 > 21 mmHg). In a secondary analysis, we compared optical CBF and MAP during randomly selected 12-min periods of "normal" (> 21 mmHg) and "low" (< 19 mmHg) PbO2. Receiver operator characteristic (ROC) and logistic regression analysis were employed to assess the utility of optical CBF, MAP, and the two-variable combination, for discrimination of brain hypoxia from normal brain oxygen tension.

Results: Seven patients were enrolled and monitored for a total of 17 days. Baseline-normalized MAP and CBF significantly decreased during brain hypoxia events (p < 0.05). Through use of randomly selected, temporally sparse windows of low and high PbO2, we observed that both MAP and optical CBF discriminated between periods of brain hypoxia and normal brain oxygen tension (ROC AUC 0.761, 0.762, respectively). Further, combining these variables using logistic regression analysis markedly improved the ability to distinguish low- and high-PbO2 epochs (AUC 0.876).

Conclusions: The data suggest optical techniques may be able to provide continuous individualized CBF measurement to indicate occurrence of brain hypoxia and guide brain-directed therapy.

Keywords: Brain ischemia; Cerebral blood flow; Cerebral ischemia; Cerebral metabolic rate; Clark electrode; Coma; Diffuse correlation spectroscopy; Hypoxia; Hypoxia neuromonitoring; Indocyanine green; Near-infrared spectroscopy; Neuromonitoring; Oxygen extraction fraction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arterial Pressure / physiology*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Coma / diagnostic imaging
  • Coma / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Neuroimaging / standards
  • Neurophysiological Monitoring / methods*
  • Neurophysiological Monitoring / standards
  • Optical Imaging / methods
  • Optical Imaging / standards
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / standards