Pilot study of cerebral and somatic autoregulation using NIRS in preterm neonates


BACKGROUND: As neonates transition from a relatively hypoxic environment to extra-uterine life, arterial oxygen saturation dramatically increases. This transition occurs while most organs have not fully matured. The ability for immature tissue to adequately extract and utilize oxygen remains largely unknown. With the development of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), measuring specific tissue oxygen saturation (StO2) noninvasively, clinicians can measure StO2 and determine if adequate tissue oxygenation is maintained. The objective of this study is to determine the relationships of NIRS brain and somatic autoregulation function to patients’ severity of illness.

METHODS: In this prospective cohort pilot study, after parental consent, neonates less than 34 weeks with arterial access, were enrolled. The FORE-SIGHT NIRS probe was placed on the forehead and abdominal wall for 24 hours. Continuous arterial blood pressure, SpO2 and cerebral and somatic NIRS were used to derive autoregulation function.

RESULTS: Data was obtained from 17 neonates (0.540 to 2.37 kg, gestation 23.0 to 33.2 weeks). The autoregulation function categorizes pressure passive index (PPI) values as good, borderline, or poor. For normal autoregulation function, PPI values tend to be low and fairly constant for a range of MAP. The PPI borderline zone is a hypothetical range of PPI values where autoregulation function transitions from good to poor.

CONCLUSION: Our results show most premature neonates, as long as they maintained normal BP and systemic circulation can autoregulate cerebral perfusion. When BP are above or below the normal MAP for age, the neonate is at risk for losing brain and somatic autoregulation.

*Corresponding Author: 

Terri M Traub, MD, Neonatology, Children’s National Hospital, 111 Michigan Ave NW, Neonatology Department, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Tel.: +1 202 476 5448; Fax: +1 202 476 3459; E-mail: terrimtraub@gmail.com.