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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2009 Dec;36(6):946-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2009.05.046. Epub 2009 Jul 28.

Selective cerebral perfusion at 28 degrees C--is the spinal cord safe?

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  • 1Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, PO Box 1028, New York, NY 10029, USA.



To shorten cooling/rewarming associated with hypothermic neuroprotection strategies during complex aortic arch surgery, selective cerebral perfusion (SCP) at 28 degrees C has recently been advocated, although its safe limits - especially with regard to the ischaemic tolerance of the spinal cord - have not been systematically examined.


Twenty juvenile Yorkshire pigs (30.3+/-2.8kg) were randomly allocated to undergo circulatory arrest and SCP at 28 degrees C for 90 min (group A; N=12) or 120 min (group B; N=8) at 50 mmHg using alpha-stat pH management. Spinal cord blood flow (SCBF) was assessed using fluorescent microspheres at baseline (prior to SCP); at 5 and 80 min during SCP, and at 1, 5 and 48 h after cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). A modified Tarlov score was used to evaluate neurobehavioural recovery in all survivors blindly from videotapes for 5 days postoperatively. Histological ischaemic spinal cord injury was scored after sacrifice.


All pigs could be weaned from CPB and ventilation, but seven pigs (58%) in group A and five (63%) in group B developed multi-organ failure and died within 24h. SCBF diminished immediately after initiation of SCP and was absent throughout SCP in all segments below T8/9, recovering to baseline 1h after SCP at all cord levels. All survivors suffered moderate-to-severe histological lumbar spinal cord damage, more severe in group B (p< or =0.049). Three of five group A pigs recovered normal function, but two suffered paraparesis. Group B survivors had a worse neurologic outcome (p<0.0001): all suffered paraplegia (one immediate, and two on day 2, after initial recovery).


SCP provides insufficient SCBF below T8/9 to sustain cord viability. At 28 degrees C, the ischaemic tolerance of the cord may be exceeded enough by 90 min to impair function; by 120 min, SCP at 28 degrees C invariably results in paraplegia.

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