Measuring near-infrared spectroscopy derived cerebral autoregulation in neonates: From research tool toward bedside multimodal monitoring

Liesbeth Thewissen, Alexander Caicedo, Petra Lemmers, Frank V. Van Bel, Sabine V. Van Huffel, Gunnar Naulaers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Introduction: Cerebral autoregulation (CAR), the ability of the human body to maintain cerebral blood flow (CBF) in a wide range of perfusion pressures, can be calculated by describing the relation between arterial blood pressure (ABP) and cerebral oxygen saturation measured by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). In literature, disturbed CAR is described in different patient groups, using multiple measurement techniques and mathematical models. Furthermore, it is unclear to what extent cerebral pathology and outcome can be explained by impaired CAR. Aim and methods: In order to summarize CAR studies using NIRS in neonates, a systematic review was performed in the PUBMED and EMBASE database. To provide a general overview of the clinical framework used to study CAR, the different preprocessing methods and mathematical models are described and explained. Furthermore, patient characteristics, definition of impaired CAR and the outcome according to this definition is described organized for the different patient groups. Results: Forty-six articles were included in this review. Four patient groups were established: preterm infants during the transitional period, neonates receiving specific medication/treatment, neonates with congenital heart disease and neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) treated with therapeutic hypothermia. Correlation, coherence and transfer function (TF) gain are the mathematical models most frequently used to describe CAR. The definition of impaired CAR is depending on the mathematical model used. The incidence of intraventricular hemorrhage in preterm infants is the outcome variable most frequently correlated with impaired CAR. Hypotension, disease severity, dopamine treatment, injury on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and long term outcome are associated with impaired CAR. Prospective interventional studies are lacking in all research areas. Discussion and conclusion: NIRS derived CAR measurement is an important research tool to improve knowledge about central hemodynamic fluctuations during the transitional period, cerebral pharmacodynamics of frequently used medication (sedatives-inotropes) and cerebral effects of specific therapies in neonatology. Uniformity regarding measurement techniques and mathematical models is needed. Multimodal monitoring databases of neonatal intensive care patients of multiple centers, together with identical outcome parameters are needed to compare different techniques and make progress in this field. Real-time bedside monitoring of CAR, together with conventional monitoring, seems a promising technique to improve individual patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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