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Early Hum Dev. 1995 Apr 14;41(2):129-45.

Cerebral circulation assessed by transcephalic electrical impedance during the first day of life--a potential predictor of outcome?

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Cardiorespiratory Research Unit, University of Turku, Finland.


Pulsatile changes in intracranial blood volume (transcephalic electrical impedance, delta Z), arterial blood pressure (aBP) and respiration were studied during the first day after birth in 42 neonates with a birth weight of 1040-3850 g and gestational age of 26-36 weeks. The neurological outcome was assessed at 1 year of age to study the predictive ability of delta Z. delta Z, ECG, respirogram and direct aBP were recorded at 8-h intervals. Outcome was adverse in seven infants of whom two died from severe peri-intraventricular haemorrhage. PCO2 was higher (6.2 kPa) in the infants with adverse outcome than in those infants with favourable outcome (5.0 kPa) (P = 0.004). Blood glucose (4.5 vs. 3.3 mmol/l, P = 0.030) and first day administration of fluid (80 vs. 63 ml/kg/day, P = 0.003) behaved, respectively. Of the infants receiving dopamine therapy, 60% had adverse outcome while only 11% of those not receiving dopamine had adverse outcome (P = 0.016). Of the infants with high diastolic blood pressure levels, 32% had adverse outcome, while none with low diastolic blood pressure levels had adverse outcome (P = 0.031). Spectral analysis was used to examine signal variabilities in the frequency domain. During the first 24 h of life, the variabilities of aBP and respiration were equal in all the infants. The high-frequency delta Z signal variability (1.50-4.00 Hz, heart rate level) was found to be lower in the infants with adverse outcome (330 units) than in the infants with favourable outcome (1280 units, P = 0.017). The low delta Z variability allowed us to assume that there is a decrease of pulsatile cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the infants with adverse outcome. We speculate that this may result from the 'no reflow phenomenon', increased tissue pressure due to ischaemia and/or PIVH, the 'brain sparing effect' or constriction of main cerebral arteries due to increased pressure support or metabolic factors (PCO2, glucose). We believe that transcephalic impedance provides a potential cot-side method for monitoring cerebral circulation in the neonatal period with an ability to predict outcome.

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