Use of hypothermic circulatory arrest for cerebral protection during aortic surgery

Randall B. Griepp, M. Arisan Ergin, Jock N. McCullough, Khanh H. Nguyen, Tatu Juvonen, Nin Chang, Eva B. Griepp

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69 Scopus citations


Optimal use of hypothermic circulatory arrest during aortic surgery requires understanding of its physiology. Research in laboratory animals and clinical observations have now documented that considerable residual cerebral metabolism remains with cooling to levels of 15-18°C, especially if cooling intervals are short, reflected by persistent jugular venous desaturation. Cooling should be continued to below 15°C if the duration of HCA is expected to exceed 20 minutes, and continued until jugular venous saturations exceed 95%. There is considerable laboratory evidence that even short durations of HCA are followed by a prolonged interval of increased cerebral vascular resistance during which cerebral metabolism is maintained at normal levels by markedly increased oxygen extraction. Clinical observations have now confirmed that considerable jugular venous desaturation is present in patients following HCA: it is more pronounced with prolonged HCA, and is still present as late as six hours after the start of rewarming. This reinforces the concept of a prolonged postoperative vulnerable interval following HCA, during which any compromise in oxygen delivery has the potential for producing cerebral injury. Several adjunctive measures have been shown to improve outcome following HCA. The simplest and most important is topical hypothermia: packing the head in ice during the interval of HCA. Retrograde cerebral perfusion (RCP) has also been shown to improve EEG recovery as well as histological and behavioral outcome in laboratory animals following prolonged HCA, but some of its effect may be secondary to its efficacy in keeping the brain cold, since RCP provides very low rates of flow and supports metabolism at a much lower level than antegrade perfusion at the same temperature. But despite the clear superiority of antegrade perfusion, and the documentation of some benefits of RCP in laboratory measures of cerebral protection, clinical results using RCP and ACP have not yet demonstrated the superiority of these methods over use of HCA alone, perhaps because these modalities are usually employed in patients with unusually high risk of neurological injury: those with dissection or with clot or atheroma in the aorta. Nevertheless, recent years have seen considerable reduction in mortality following aortic surgery, especially in older patients, and a trend toward a lower incidence of permanent neurologic dysfunction. The presence of preoperative rupture or hemodynamic compromise, and of clot or atheroma in the aorta, remain the most significant risk factors both for death and occurrence of stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-321
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cardiac Surgery
Issue number2 SUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Mar 1997


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