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Pediatr Res. 2000 Sep;48(3):351-6.

Numerical modeling of temperature distributions within the neonatal head.

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Department of Imaging, Imperial College School of Medicine, London, UK.


Introduction of hypothermia therapy as a neuroprotection therapy after hypoxia-ischemia in newborn infants requires appraisal of cooling methods. In this numerical study thermal simulations were performed to test the hypothesis that cooling of the surface of the cranium by the application of a cooling bonnet significantly reduces deep brain temperature and produces a temperature differential between the deep brain and the body core. A realistic three-dimensional (3-D) computer model of infant head anatomy was used, derived from magnetic resonance data from a newborn infant. Temperature distributions were calculated using the Pennes heatsink model. The cooling bonnet was at a constant temperature of 10 degrees C. When modeling head cooling only, a constant body core temperature of 37 degrees C was imposed. The computed result showed no significant cooling of the deep brain regions, only the very superficial regions of the brain are cooled to temperatures of 33-34 degrees C. Poor efficacy of head cooling was still found after a considerable increase in the modeled thermal conductivities of the skin and skull, or after a decrease in perfusion. The results for the heatsink thermal model of the infant head were confirmed by comparison of results computed for a scaled down adult head, using both the heatsink description and a discrete vessel thermal model with both anatomy and vasculature obtained from MR data. The results indicate that significant reduction in brain temperature will only be achieved if the infant's core temperature is lowered.

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