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Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2010 Mar;152(3):443-50. doi: 10.1007/s00701-009-0520-1. Epub 2009 Oct 6.

Intracranial pressure pulse amplitude during changes in head elevation: a new parameter for determining optimum cerebral perfusion pressure?

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Department of Neurosurgery, Neurocenter, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.



During short-term postural changes, the factors determining the amplitude of intracranial pulse pressure (ICPPA) remain constant, except for cerebrovascular resistance (CVR). Therefore, it may be possible to draw conclusions from the ICPPA onto the cerebrovascular resistance (CVR) and thus the relative change in cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP).


Age, sex, disease, Glasgow Coma Scale score, placement of ventricular drain, blood gas analysis, and parameters of airway management were prospectively recorded in 40 patients. The changes in intracranial pressure (ICP), CPP, mean arterial pressure (MAP), and ICPPA at head elevations of 0 degrees, 30 degrees, and 60 degrees were measured and analyzed online. Status of cerebrovascular autoregulation was checked using the pressure-reactivity index (PRx).


Altogether 36 subjects fulfilled the study conditions. Three patients had positive PRx indicating disturbed autoregulation and were excluded. Thus, 33 were left for analysis (18 females and 15 males). All of them were sedated and mechanically ventilated with Glasgow Coma scores ranging from 3-8. During change in head elevation from 0 degrees to 60 degrees, we found a significant (p < 0.05) improvement of the ICP, an increase of the ICCPA, a reduction of the MAP, and a decrease in the CPP. Increasing ICPPA was linked to decreasing CPP (0 degrees to 60 degrees, r = -0.42, p < 0.05).


Head elevation is an important part of the ICP and CPP therapy in neurointensive care. When searching for the patient-specific optimum upper body position, ICPPA may provide additional information. Providing that the cerebral autoregulation is intact, the lowest ICPPA of a patient corresponds to the individual upper body position with the highest CPP.

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