Head-of-bed manipulation is commonly performed in the neurocritical care unit to optimize cerebral blood flow (CBF), but its effects on CBF are rarely measured. This pilot study employs a novel, non-invasive instrument combining two techniques, diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) for measurement of CBF and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) for measurement of cerebral oxy- and deoxy-hemoglobin concentrations, to monitor patients during head-of-bed lowering.
Ten brain-injured patients and ten control subjects were monitored continuously with DCS and NIRS while the head-of-bed was positioned first at 30° and then at 0°. Relative CBF (rCBF) and concurrent changes in oxy- (ΔHbO2), deoxy- (ΔHb), and total-hemoglobin concentrations (ΔTHC) from left/right frontal cortices were monitored for 5 minutes at each position. Patient and control response differences were assessed.
rCBF, ΔHbO2, and ΔTHC responses to head lowering differed significantly between brain-injured patients and healthy controls (P<0.02). For patients, rCBF changes were heterogeneous, with no net change observed in the group average (0.3% ± 28.2%, P=0.938). rCBF increased in controls (18.6% ± 9.4%, P<0.001). ΔHbO2, ΔHb, and ΔTHC increased with head lowering in both groups, but to a larger degree in brain-injured patients. rCBF correlated moderately with changes in cerebral perfusion pressure (R=0.40, P<0.001), but not intracranial pressure.
DCS/NIRS detected differences in CBF and oxygenation responses of brain-injured patients versus controls during head-of-bed manipulation. This pilot study supports the feasibility of continuous bedside measurement of cerebrovascular hemodynamics with DCS/NIRS and provides the rationale for further investigation in larger cohorts.