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Low-dose prostacyclin in treatment of severe brain trauma evaluated with microdialysis and jugular bulb oxygen measurements

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The endogenous substance prostacyclin is a substance with the potential to improve microcirculation and oxygenation around contusions in the brain following a head trauma by its vasodilatory, antiaggregatory and antiadhesive effects. Microdialysis measurements of local concentrations of selected interstitial substances in the brain, and measurements of venous jugular bulb oxygenation reflecting overall brain oxygenation, might be useful to evaluate possible therapeutic effects of a specific therapy, such as treatment with prostacyclin.


This case report study on six patients, of whom five were given prostacyclin, includes cerebral microdialysis measurements of interstitial lactate (n=5), pyruvate (n=3), glycerol (n=5) and glucose (n=4), and is combined with measurements of venous jugular bulb oxygenation in three of the patients. One microdialysis catheter was placed adjacent to a contusion, and in four of the patients another catheter was also placed in the contralateral less injured side for comparison. Low-dose prostacyclin infusion (0.5–1.0 ng kg-1 min-1) was started when lactate concentrations in the more injured side was raised at a constant level for more than 10 h. The study also includes one patient used as control to whom no prostacyclin was given.


Lactate was markedly lower in the less injured than in the more injured area of the brain. During the prostacyclin infusion elevated lactate and lactate/pyruvate ratio were reduced. Elevated glycerol decreased, a low glucose increased and jugular bulb blood oxygenation increased following start of prostacyclin. The control patient showed an increase in lactate and lactate/pyruvate ratio.


The microdialysis data combined with the jugular bulb oxygenation data indicated that low-dose prostacyclin exerts effects compatible with improved oxygenation and reduced cell damage in the severely traumatised brain.

Keywords: Brain contusion; glucose; glycerol; head injury; jugular venous bulb saturation; lactate; microcirculation; microdialysis; prostacyclin; pyruvate

Document Type: Case Report

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, 2: Neurosurgery, University Hospital and University of Lund and 3: Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: August 1, 2000


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