Changes in Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure and Lactate Concentrations during Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysm Surgery

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Although ischemic injury to the spinal cord is a well-known complication of aortic surgery, no metabolic markers have been identified as predictors of an adverse outcome. This study evaluated the effect of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage, with and without distal femoral perfusion or moderate hypothermia on blood and CSF lactate concentrations and CSF pressure during thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm surgery.


Three nonconcurrent groups of patients were studied prospectively: patients with normal body temperature (35 degrees Celsius) but without distal femoral bypass (n = 6), patients with normal body temperature with bypass (n = 7), and patients with hypothermia (30 degrees Celsius) and bypass (n = 8). In all patients, CSF pressure was recorded before, during, and after aortic cross-clamping. During the surgical repair, CSF drainage was performed using a 4-Fr intrathecal silicone catheter. Blood and CSF lactate concentrations were measured throughout the operation.


Significant increases in blood (490%) and CSF (173%) lactate concentrations were observed during and after thoracic aortic occlusion in patients with normothermia and no bypass (P < 0.02 and 0.05, respectively). Distal perfusion attenuated the increase in both blood and CSF lactate (P < 0.01), and a further reduction was achieved with hypothermia of 30 degrees Celsius (P < 0.001). Patients who became paraplegic showed a greater increase in CSF lactate concentrations after aortic clamp release compared with those who suffered no neurological damage (275% vs. 123% of baseline; P < 0.05). Increased CSF pressure of 42–60% (P < 0.005) was noted soon after thoracic aortic occlusion, both with and without distal femoral bypass.


Incremental reductions in CSF lactate concentrations were achieved using distal femoral bypass and hypothermia. The reduction in CSF lactate correlated with the methods used to protect the spinal cord during thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm surgery and was associated with better outcome. Decompression by distal bypass of the hemodynamic overload caused by aortic occlusion was insufficient to eliminate the acute increase in CSF pressure. Cerebrospinal fluid lactate measurements during high aortic surgery may accurately represent the spinal cord metabolic balance.

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