International Perfusion Association


Clinical Relevance of Transcranial Doppler in a Cardiac Surgery Setting: Embolic Load Predicts Difficult Separation from Cardiopulmonary Bypass

Background: During cardiac surgery, transcranial Doppler (TCD) represents a non-invasive modality that allows measurement of red blood cell flow velocities in the cerebral arteries. TCD can also be used to detect and monitor embolic material in the cerebral circulation. Detection of microemboli is reported as a high intensity transient signal (HITS). The importance of cerebral microemboli during cardiac surgery has been linked to the increased incidence of postoperative renal failure, right ventricular dysfunction, and hemodynamic instability. The objective of this study is to determine whether the embolic load is associated with hemodynamic instability during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) separation and postoperative complications.

Methods: A retrospective single-centre cohort study of 354 patients undergoing cardiac surgery between December 2015 and March 2020 was conducted. Patients were divided in tertiles, where 117 patients had a low quantity of embolic material (LEM), 119 patients have a medium quantity of microemboli (MEM) and 118 patients who have a high quantity of embolic material (HEM). The primary endpoint was a difficult CPB separation. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine the potential association between a difficult CPB separation and the number of embolic materials.

Results: Patients who had a difficult CPB separation had more HITS compared to patients who had a successful CPB separation (p < 0.001). In the multivariate analysis, patients with MEM decreased their odds of having a difficult CPB weaning compared to patients in the HEM group (OR = 0.253, CI 0.111-0.593; p = 0.001). In the postoperative period patients in the HEM group have a higher Time of Persistent Organ Dysfunction (TPOD), a longer stay in the ICU, a longer duration under vasopressor drugs and a higher mortality rate compared to those in the MEM and LEM groups.

Conclusion: The result of this study suggests that a high quantity of cerebral embolic material increases the odds of having a difficult CPB separation. Also, it seems to be associated to more complex surgery, a longer CPB time, a higher TPOD and a longer stay in the ICU. Six out of eight patients who died in this cohort were in the HEM group.

Keywords: Cardiac surgery; Cardiopulmonary bypass; Cerebral microemboli; High intensity transient signal; Transcranial Doppler.

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