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Physiological thresholds for irreversible tissue damage in contusional regions following traumatic brain injury.
Cerebral ischaemia appears to be an important mechanism of secondary neuronal injury in traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is an important predictor of outcome. To date, the thresholds of cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral oxygen utilization (CMRO(2)) for irreversible tissue damage used in TBI studies have been adopted from experimental and clinical ischaemic stroke studies. Identification of irreversibly damaged tissue in the acute phase following TBI could have considerable therapeutic and prognostic implications. However, it is questionable whether stroke thresholds are applicable to TBI. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine physiological thresholds for the development of irreversible tissue damage in contusional and pericontusional regions in TBI, and to determine the ability of such thresholds to accurately differentiate irreversibly damaged tissue. This study involved 14 patients with structural abnormalities on late-stage MRI, all of whom had been studied with (15)O PET within 72 h of TBI. Lesion regions of interest (ROI) and non-lesion ROIs were constructed on late-stage MRIs and applied to co-registered PET maps of CBF, CMRO(2) and oxygen extraction fraction (OEF). From the entire population of voxels in non-lesion ROIs, we determined thresholds for the development of irreversible tissue damage as the lower limit of the 95% confidence interval for CBF, CMRO(2) and OEF. To test the ability of a physiological variable to differentiate lesion and non-lesion tissue, we constructed probability curves, demonstrating the ability of a physiological variable to predict lesion and non-lesion outcomes. The lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for CBF, CMRO(2) and OEF in non-lesion tissue were 15.0 ml/100 ml/min, 36.7 mumol/100 ml/min and 25.9% respectively. Voxels below these values were significantly more frequent in lesion tissue (all P < 0.005, Mann-Whitney U-test). However, a significant proportion of lesion voxels had values above these thresholds, so that definition of the full extent of irreversible tissue damage would not be possible based upon single physiological thresholds. We conclude that, in TBI, the threshold of CBF below which irreversible tissue damage consistently occurs differs from the classical CBF threshold for stroke (where similar methodology is used to define such thresholds). The CMRO(2) threshold is comparable to that reported in the stroke literature. At a voxel-based level, however (and in common with ischaemic stroke), the extent of irreversible tissue damage cannot be accurately predicted by early abnormalities of any single physiological variable.
Adolescent, Adult, Brain/metabolism, Brain Injuries/pathology, Brain Injuries/physiopathology, Cerebrovascular Circulation/physiology, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods, Male, Oxygen/metabolism, Oxygen Consumption/physiology, Positron-Emission Tomography/methods, Predictive Value of Tests, Prognosis, Retrospective Studies
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