A bedside test for cerebral autoregulation using transcranial Doppler ultrasound

C. A. Giller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Although disorders of cerebral autoregulation are commonly seen in neurosurgical disease, there is currently no test of autoregulation in widespread use that may be performed safely at the bedside. The presence of autoregulation, however, can be seen in the brief hyperemic response in the middle cerebral artery distribution following a transient manual carotid artery compression in the neck. This transient hyperemic response (THR) is readily measured with transcranial Doppler techniques, and therefore might serve as a qualitative marker of cerebral autoregulation. To evaluate the THR as a clinical tool, carotid compressions were performed during 172 TCD studies on 79 patients with neurosurgical disorders and on 10 patients without cerebral disease. The results were correlated with clinical status (e.g., Hunt-Hess Grade for subarachnoid hemorrhage and Glasgow Coma Score for trauma). There were no complications arising from the compressions. A separate assessment of autoregulation was made from TCD recordings obtained intraoperatively during 16 procedures and correlated to the pre-operative THRs. Autoregulation was further assessed in 4 patients during a hypotensive challenge, and again compared to the THRs. A strong correlation was seen between the THR results and clinical status. The THR was also strongly correlated with the intraoperative assessments, and all 4 patients receiving hypotensive challenges had abnormal THRs and demonstrated evidence of poor autoregulation during the challenge. None of the control patients had abnormal THRs. The THR arising from transient artery compression is readily detected with TCD techniques and correlates well with clinical status and other indicators of autoregulatory ability. The THR test can be safely performed at the bedside, uses noninvasive technology, and may emerge as a useful marker of cerebral autoregulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1991


  • Cerebral autoregulation
  • carotid artery compression
  • transcranial Doppler ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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