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Free Content Intraocular and Intracranial Pressures During Head-Down Tilt with Lower Body Negative Pressure

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BACKGROUND: Seven astronauts after 6-mo missions to the International Space Station showed unexpected vision problems. Lumbar punctures performed in the four astronauts with optic disc edema showed moderate elevations of cerebral spinal fluid pressure after returning to Earth. We hypothesized that lower body negative pressure (LBNP) imposed during head-down tilt (HDT) would reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) and transcranial ultrasound pulse amplitude, a noninvasive intracranial pressure (ICP) surrogate.

METHODS: Participating in this study were 25 normal healthy nonsmoking volunteers (mean age: 36 yr). Subjects were positioned supine (5 min), sitting (5 min), 15° whole body HDT (5 min), and 10 min of HDT with LBNP (25 mmHg). The order of HDT and HDT+LBNP tests was balanced. Right and left IOP, transcranial ultrasound pulse amplitude, arm blood pressure, and heart rate were measured during the last minute (steady state) of each testing condition.

RESULTS: IOP significantly decreased from supine to sitting posture by 3.2 ± 1.4 mmHg (mean ± SD: N = 25), and increased by 0.9 ± 1.3 mmHg from supine to the HDT position. LBNP during HDT significantly lowered IOP to supine levels. In addition, LBNP significantly reduced transcranial ultrasound pulse amplitudes by 38% as compared to the HDT condition (N = 9). Sitting mean blood pressure (BP) was significantly higher (+5 mmHg) than BP values after 10 min of LBNP during HDT. However, heart rate was not significantly different across all conditions.

DISCUSSION: These data suggest that short duration exposures to LBNP attenuate HDT-induced increases in IOP and ICP.

Macias BR, Liu JHK, Grande-Gutierrez N, Hargens AR. Intraocular and intracranial pressures during head-down tilt with lower body negative pressure. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2015; 86(1):3–7.

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Keywords: intracranial pressure; intraocular pressure; lower body negative pressure; spaceflight; vision impairment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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