Objective: Current neuromonitoring techniques in severe human head injury often fail to detect the causes of clinical deterioration. A sensor is now available for continuous monitoring of brain oxygen tension, carbon dioxide tension, and pH values. In this study, brain tissue oxygen tension was used to differentiate patients at risk for brain ischemia and to predict outcome.
Methods: The multiparameter sensor was inserted into brain tissue, along with a standard ventriculostomy catheter and a microdialysis probe, in 24 patients. Lactate and glucose were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography in hourly dialysate samples.
Results: Patients who experienced a good recovery (n = 8) sustained a mean brain partial oxygen pressure of 39 +/- 4 mm Hg, brain partial carbon dioxide pressure (PCO2) of 50 +/- 8 mm Hg, and a brain pH of 7.14 +/- 0.12. Patients with moderate to severe disability (n = 6) sustained a mean brain partial oxygen pressure of 31 +/- 5 mm Hg, brain PCO2 of 47 +/- 2 mm Hg, and a brain pH of 7.11 +/- 0.12. Ten patients who died or remained vegetative sustained a mean brain partial oxygen pressure of 19 +/- 8 mm Hg, a brain PCO2 of 64 +/- 21 mm Hg, and a brain pH of 6.85 +/- 0.41. Mean brain PCO2 levels of 90 to 150 mm Hg were consistently observed after cerebral circulatory arrest or brain death. Dialysate lactate and glucose were less clearly correlated to outcome than brain oxygen tension. Dialysate glucose was extremely low in all patients and zero in most patients who died.
Conclusion: Brain oxygen pressure, brain carbon dioxide pressure, and brain pH measurements, as well as a microdialysis probe for glucose and lactate analysis, may optimize the management of comatose neurosurgical patients by allowing a fuller understanding of the dynamic factors affecting brain metabolism.