Cerebral Function and Perfusion during Cardiopulmonary Bypass: A Plea for a Multimodal Monitoring Approach


  • Marcus Thudium Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Bonn, Germany
  • Ingo Heinze Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Bonn, Germany
  • Richard K Ellerkmann Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Bonn, Germany
  • Tobias Hilbert Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Bonn, Germany http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2090-8812




neuromonitoring, cerebral perfusion, Bispectral Index, Near Infrared Spectroscopy, Transcranial Doppler sonography, cardiac surgery


Background: Postoperative neurological injury still represents a major cause of morbidity after cardiac surgery. Our objective was to compare the limits as well as advantages of routine monitoring tools for the detection of cerebral function and perfusion deficits during cardiopulmonary bypass in a daily clinical setting.

Methods: Adult patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery with use of cardiopulmonary bypass were included. Patients received monitoring comprising Bispectral Index (BIS), Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) and assessment of middle cerebral artery flow velocity (MCAV) using transcranial Doppler (TCD) sonography. Measurements were taken after anesthesia induction (at baseline) and every 10 minutes during aortic cross-clamping. Relative deviation from baseline values was calculated. Values were compared with predefined, generally accepted threshold values identifying patients at risk for cerebral functional and perfusion deficits.

Results: 30 consecutive patients were included into data analysis. Compared to NIRS as well as BIS monitoring, there was a wide interindividual variability in relative MCAV values for the whole cohort (median 0.9, range 0.39-2.19). Out of 229 measurements in total, 82 BIS but only 30 NIRS and 12 TCD values were lying outside predefined limits. TCD monitoring identified two patients with disturbed cerebral autoregulation, while NIRS remained unremarkable. The latter was significantly associated with systemic hemoglobin levels. Finally, patients with relative MCAV values >1.0 had a higher risk of developing postoperative delirium.

Conclusion: Our findings reveal inherent technical limitations of each individual monitoring component, such as high interindividual variability (TCD), low spatial resolution (NIRS), or interaction with anesthetics (BIS). We therefore argue for a multimodal neuromonitoring that combines several qualities. Such approach would help reducing these limitations while individual components complement each other, thus providing more patient safety during cardiac surgery. Furthermore, such an approach would be easily applicable in a routine clinical setting.

Author Biography

Tobias Hilbert, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Bonn, Germany

Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine



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How to Cite

Thudium, M., Heinze, I., Ellerkmann, R. K., & Hilbert, T. (2018). Cerebral Function and Perfusion during Cardiopulmonary Bypass: A Plea for a Multimodal Monitoring Approach. The Heart Surgery Forum, 21(1), E028-E035. https://doi.org/10.1532/hsf.1894




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