Noninvasive measurement of pulsatile intracranial pressure using ultrasound

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 1998;71:66-9. doi: 10.1007/978-3-7091-6475-4_21.


The present study was designed to validate our noninvasive ultrasonic technique (pulse phase locked loop: PPLL) for measuring intracranial pressure (ICP) waveforms. The technique is based upon detecting skull movements which are known to occur in conjunction with altered intracranial pressure. In bench model studies, PPLL output was highly correlated with changes in the distance between a transducer and a reflecting target (R2 = 0.977). In cadaver studies, transcranial distance was measured while pulsations of ICP (amplitudes of zero to 10 mmHg) were generated by rhythmic injections of saline. Frequency analyses (fast Fourier transformation) clearly demonstrate the correspondence between the PPLL output and ICP pulse cycles. Although theoretically there is a slight possibility that changes in the PPLL output are caused by changes in the ultrasonic velocity of brain tissue, the decreased amplitudes of the PPLL output as the external compression of the head was increased indicates that the PPLL output represents substantial skull movement associated with altered ICP. In conclusion, the ultrasound device has sufficient sensitivity to detect transcranial pulsations which occur in association with the cardiac cycle. Our technique makes it possible to analyze ICP waveforms noninvasively and will be helpful for understanding intracranial compliance and cerebrovascular circulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Echoencephalography / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypertension / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intracranial Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Intracranial Pressure / physiology*
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation*
  • Pulsatile Flow / physiology*
  • Skull / diagnostic imaging
  • Skull / physiopathology
  • Transducers