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Stroke. 1997 Oct;28(10):1988-92.

Cerebral microembolic signals during cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. Frequency, time of occurrence, and association with patient and surgical characteristics.

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Department of Neurology, Rikshospitalet, National Hospital, University of Oslo, Norway.



We sought to determine the number of cerebral microembolic signals (MES) and their time of occurrence during the two most frequent types of cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) surgery: coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and cardiac valve replacement (VR). Furthermore, we sought to examine the association between MES, patient characteristics, and intraoperative parameters.


Forty-two patients were studied, 15 of whom had CABG and 27 VR. Cerebral MES were detected with the use of transcranial Doppler monitoring of the right middle cerebral artery.


Cerebral MES were detected in all patients. The number was significantly higher during VR (median, 1048) than during CABG (median, 82) (P < .001). In VR patients, 85% of the MES were detected when the heart regained effective ejection. During CABG, the highest number was detected when the aorta was cross-clamped (18%) and on release of the side clamp (13%). The numbers of MES during the period when the aorta was cross-clamped and in association with surgical procedures were not significantly different in the two patient groups. The total number of MES was inversely correlated to nasopharyngeal temperature (P < .01).


A significantly higher number of cerebral MES were detected during VR than during CABG. The highest number occurred in VR patients when effective heart ejection was regained and in CABG patients when the aorta was cross-clamped and on release of the side clamp. The total number of MES increased at lower nasopharyngeal temperatures. Transcranial Doppler monitoring may alert the surgical team when emboli enter the cerebral circulation during CPB surgery, thus allowing preventive measures to be taken.

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