Cerebral Hemodynamic Response to CO sub 2 after Severe Head Injury: Clinical and Prognostic Implications

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Abstract

Objective

To study the cerebrovascular reactivity to CO2 after severe head injury to establish the clinical and prognostic relevance of CO2 reactivity.

Methods

Cerebrovascular reactivity to CO2 was studied in 20 patients with severe head injuries at 3.0 +/- 1.8 days after trauma onset. Two cerebral blood flow studies were performed to measure CO2 reactivity: the first study in a condition of normocapnia and the second study in a condition of relative hypocapnia.

Results

Global reactivity was superimposable to that found in awake, normocapnic subjects and did not correlate with age and Glasgow Coma Scale score but was dependent on the type of brain lesion. Moreover, reactivity correlated with outcome in patients studied after the first 3 days after trauma.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that cerebrovascular reactivity is (a) almost preserved after a severe head injury; (b) significantly influenced by type of brain lesion; (c) prognostically relevant only in patients studied after the first 3 days after trauma.

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