The clinical surrogate definition of the trigeminocardiac reflex: Development of an optimized model according to a PRISMA-compliant systematic review

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The trigeminocardiac reflex (TCR) is defined as sudden onset of parasympathetic dysrhythmias including hemodynamic irregularities, apnea, and gastric hypermotility during stimulation of sensory branches of the trigeminal nerve. Since the first description of the TCR 1999, there is an ongoing discussion about a more flexible than the existing clinical definition. Aim of this work was to create a clinical surrogate definition through a systematic review of the literature.


In this meta-analysis study, literature about TCR occurrences was, according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis statement, systematically identified through various search engines including PubMed (Medline), Embase (Ovid SP), and ISI Web of Sciences databases from January 2005 to August 2015. TCR was defined as a drop of heart rate (HR) below 60 bpm or 20% to the baseline. We extracted detailed data about hemodynamic changes and searched for connections between arterial blood pressure (BP) and HR changes during such episodes.


Overall 45 studies harboring 57 patients were included in the study but only 32 patients showed sufficient data for final analyze. HR showed a nonlinear behavior with a “tipping point” phenomena that differs in variance from the central/peripheral (20–30% drop) to ganglion (40–49% drop). BP showed a linear behavior with a “central limit” phenomena not differing in variance in the whole subgroup (30–39% drop). An analyzation of the correlation between BP and HR showed a trend to a linear correlation.


We can show for the first time that HR is the dominant variable in the TCR and present a new surrogate definition model. This model and the role of BP must be better investigated in further studies.

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