Optimizing cerebral oxygenation in cardiac surgery: A randomized controlled trial examining neurocognitive and perioperative outcomes

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Objective: The study objective was to determine whether targeted therapy to optimize cerebral oxygenation is associated with improved neurocognitive and perioperative outcomes. Methods: In a prospective trial, intraoperative cerebral oximetry monitoring using bilateral forehead probes was performed in cardiac surgical patients who were randomly assigned to an intervention group in which episodes of cerebral oxygen desaturation (<60% for >60 consecutive seconds at either probe) triggered an intervention protocol or a control group in which the cerebral oximetry data were hidden from the clinical team, and no intervention protocol was applied. Cognitive testing was performed preoperatively and at postoperative months 3 and 6; domains studied were response speed, processing speed, attention, and memory. Perioperative outcomes studied were death, hospital length of stay, intensive care unit length of stay, postoperative day of extubation, time on mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit delirium, Sequential Organ Failure Assessment on intensive care unit admission, and intensive care unit blood transfusion. Results: Group mean memory change scores were significantly better in the intervention group at 6 months (0.60 [standard error, 0.30] vs −0.17 [standard error, 0.33], adjusted P = .008). However, presence, duration, and severity of cerebral desaturation were not associated with cognitive change scores. Perioperative outcomes did not differ between the intervention and control groups. Conclusions: Targeted therapy to optimize cerebral oxygenation was associated with better memory outcome in a group of cardiac surgical patients. Some aspects of the protocol other than desaturation duration and severity contributed to the observed neuroprotective effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-953.e3
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • cardiac surgery
  • near-infrared spectroscopy
  • neurocognitive outcomes
  • postoperative cognitive decline
  • regional cerebral oxygen saturation


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