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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2011 Oct;31(10):2019-29. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2011.81. Epub 2011 Jun 8.

Cerebral artery dilatation maintains cerebral oxygenation at extreme altitude and in acute hypoxia--an ultrasound and MRI study.

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1
Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine, Institute of Human Health and Performance, Charterhouse Building, UCL Archway Campus, University College London, London, UK. mark@medicstravel.com

Abstract

Transcranial Doppler is a widely used noninvasive technique for assessing cerebral artery blood flow. All previous high altitude studies assessing cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the field that have used Doppler to measure arterial blood velocity have assumed vessel diameter to not alter. Here, we report two studies that demonstrate this is not the case. First, we report the highest recorded study of CBF (7,950 m on Everest) and demonstrate that above 5,300 m, middle cerebral artery (MCA) diameter increases (n=24 at 5,300 m, 14 at 6,400 m, and 5 at 7,950 m). Mean MCA diameter at sea level was 5.30 mm, at 5,300 m was 5.23 mm, at 6,400 m was 6.66 mm, and at 7,950 m was 9.34 mm (P<0.001 for change between 5,300 and 7,950 m). The dilatation at 7,950 m reversed with oxygen. Second, we confirm this dilatation by demonstrating the same effect (and correlating it with ultrasound) during hypoxia (FiO(2)=12% for 3 hours) in a 3-T magnetic resonance imaging study at sea level (n=7). From these results, we conclude that it cannot be assumed that cerebral artery diameter is constant, especially during alterations of inspired oxygen partial pressure, and that transcranial 2D ultrasound is a technique that can be used at the bedside or in the remote setting to assess MCA caliber.

PMID:
21654697
PMCID:
PMC3208157
DOI:
10.1038/jcbfm.2011.81
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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