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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Nov;87(5):1609-13.

Direct cooling of the human brain by heat loss from the upper respiratory tract.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University Medical School, 15-276 Bialystok, Poland.


This study is the first report on human intracranial temperature in conscious patients during and after an upper respiratory bypass. Temperatures were measured in four subjects subdurally between the frontal lobes and cribriform plate (T(cr)) and on the vault of the skull (T(sd)). Further measurements were taken in the esophagus (T(es)) and on the tympanic membrane. Reinstitution of airflow in the upper respiratory tract under conditions of mild hyperthermia gave a rapid drop in T(cr) of 0.4-0.8 degrees C. In three patients the intracranial temperature at the basal aspect of the frontal lobes fell below T(es). Thus local selective cooling of the brain surface below that of the trunk temperature was shown to occur. Intensive breathing by the patients after extubation for a 3-min period produced a cooling at the site of T(cr) measurement at a rate of up to 0.1 degrees C/min, and this response could be evoked on demand. The results support the view that cooling of the upper airway can directly influence human brain temperature.

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