Numerical Investigation of Vasospasm Detection by Extracranial Blood Velocity Ratios

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Abstract

Background: Early diagnosis of vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage can prevent cerebral ischemia and improve neurological outcomes. This study numerically evaluates the relevance of extracranial blood velocity indices to detect vasospasm. Methods: A numerical model of cerebral blood flow was used to evaluate the hemodynamics associated with anterior and posterior vasospasm under normal and impaired cerebral autoregulation conditions. Extracranial blood velocities at the carotid and vertebral arteries and their ratios between ipsilateral and contralateral, anterior and posterior, and downstream and upstream arteries were monitored during vasospasm progression. Results: For current clinical indices that track blood velocities at vasospastic arterial segments using transcranial Doppler (TCD), we observed that velocities increased initially and then decreased with vasospasm progression. This nonmonotonic behavior can lead to false-negative decisions in moderate to severe vasospasm. Alternatively, volumetric flow decreased monotonically at the affected arteries, leading to blood velocities upstream of the vasospastic artery also decreasing monotonically. Based on this principle, we demonstrate that velocity ratios between the carotid and vertebral arteries may better identify moderate to severe vasospasm and improve sensitivity and specificity of vasospasm detection. Conclusion. The velocity indices proposed in this study may enable new or improved noninvasive diagnosis of vasospasm using extracranial Doppler ultrasound. Compared to current clinical indices, the new indices may improve the handling of (1) scenarios of severe vasospasm or impaired cerebral autoregulation, (2) systemic changes in blood pressure and cardiac output, (3) vasospasm occurring in arteries distal to the cerebral circle region, and (4) cases with insufficient acoustic bone window for TCD. The results provide a concrete basis for future clinical evaluation of extracranial indices for vasospasm detection.

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