This article presents an overview of rheoencephalography (REG) – electrical impedance measurements of the brain – and summarizes past and ongoing research to develop medical applications of REG for neuro-critical care and for primary prevention of stroke and cardiovascular disease. The availability of advanced electronics and computation has opened up the potential for use of REG technology as a noninvasive, continuous and inexpensive brain monitor for military and civilian applications. The clinical background information presented here introduces physiological and clinical environments where REG has potential for use in research and clinical settings.
REG studies over the past three decades have involved in vitro and in vivo groups (animal and human), including more than 1500 measurements and related electronic and computational results and practical applications. In vitro studies helped researchers understand the flow/volume relationship between Doppler ultrasound and electrical impedance signals and supported development of REG data processing methods. In animal studies, REG was used to monitor the lower limit of cerebral blood flow (CBF) autoregulation (AR) using a newly developed algorithm. These animal studies also confirmed correlations between REG and measurements of carotid flow (CF) and intracranial pressure (ICP). Human studies confirmed the applicability of REG for detecting cerebrovascular alteration, demonstrating the usefulness of REG in the field of stroke/cardio-vascular disease prevention. In these studies, REG was compared to known stroke risk factors and to results obtained using carotid ultrasound measurements. An intelligent REG system (Cerberus) has been developed for primary stroke prevention. In these studies, the biologically relevant variables of the REG signal were pulse amplitude (minimum – maximum distance) and duration of the anacrotic (rising) portion of the REG pulse wave.
The principal limitation of REG for clinical application is the lack of pathological and physiological correlations. The studies presented here have initiated such inquiries, but many clinical questions about the pathophysiological background of REG remain unanswered.
These results demonstrate that REG development is a multidisciplinary subject with relevance for medicine (vascular neurology and neurosurgery intensive care); electronic engineering; mathematics, and computer science (data processing). It is hoped that information presented in this article will provide assistance to those involved in REG research, particularly in development and clinical applications.
Michael Bodo, Leslie D. Montgomery, Frederick J. Pearce and Rocco Armonda
Neuromonitoring is performed to prevent further (secondary) brain damage by detecting low brain blood flow following a head injury, stroke or neurosurgery. This comparative neuromonitoring study is part of an ongoing investigation of brain bioimpedance (rheoencephalography-REG) as a measuring modality for use in both civilian and military medical settings, such as patient transport, emergency care and neurosurgery intensive care. In a previous animal study, we validated that REG detects cerebral blood flow autoregulation (CBF AR), the body’s physiological mechanism that protects the brain from adverse effects of low brain blood flow (hypoxia/ischemia). In the current descriptive pig study, the primary goal was to compare measurements of CBF AR made with REG to measurements made with other neuromonitoring modalities: laser Doppler flow (LDF); intracranial pressure (ICP); absolute CBF; carotid flow (CF); and systemic arterial pressure (SAP). Challenges administered to anesthetized pigs were severe induced hemorrhage (bleeding) and resuscitation; CO2 inhalation; and positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP). Data were stored on a computer and processed offline. After hemorrhage, the loss of CBF AR was detected by REG, ICP, and CF, all of which passively followed systemic arterial SAP after bleeding. Loss of CBF AR was the earliest indicator of low brain blood flow: loss of CBF AR occurred before a decrease in cardiac output, which is the cardiovascular response to hemorrhage. A secondary goal of this study was to validate the usefulness of new automated data processing software developed to detect the status of CBF AR. Both the new automated software and the traditional (observational) evaluation indicated the status of CBF AR. REG indicates the earliest breakdown of CBF AR; cessation of EEG for 2 seconds and respiration would be used as additional indicators of loss of CBF AR. The clinical significance of this animal study is that REG shows potential for use as a noninvasive, continuous and non-operator dependent neuromonitor of CBF AR in both civilian and military medical settings. Human validation studies of neuromonitoring with REG are currently in progress.
Michael Bodo, Richard Mahon, Alex Razumovsky, Efim Kouperberg, Michael Crimmins, Rocco Armonda and Martin Baruch
In neurosurgery intensive care units, cerebrovascular reactivity tests for neuromonitoring are used to evaluate the status of cerebral blood flow autoregulation; lack of autoregulation indicates a poor patient outcome. The goal of neuromonitoring is to prevent secondary injuries following a primary central nervous system injury, when the brain is vulnerable to further compromise due to hypoxia, ischemia and disturbances in cerebral blood flow and intracranial pressure. Ideally, neuromonitoring would be noninvasive and continuous. This study compares cerebrovascular reactivity monitored by rheoencephalography, a noninvasive continuous monitoring modality, to cerebrovascular reactivity measured by currently used neuromonitoring modalities: transcranial Doppler, near infrared spectroscopy and laser Doppler flowmetry. Fourteen healthy volunteer subjects were measured. The tests used for comparison of cerebrovascular reactivity were breath-holding, hyperventilation, CO2 inhalation, the Valsalva maneuver, and the Trendelenburg and reverse Trendelenburg positions. Data for all modalities measured were recorded by computers and processed off line. All measured modalities reflected cerebrovascular reactivity with variabilities. Breath-holding, CO2 inhalation, and the Valsalva maneuver caused CO2 increase and consequent brain vasodilatation; hyperventilation caused CO2 decrease and brain vasoconstriction. The Trendelenburg and reverse Trendelenburg positions caused extracranial blood volume changes, which masked intracranial cerebrovascular reactivity. The hyperventilation test proved ineffective for measuring cerebrovascular reactivity with rheoencephalography due to respiratory artifacts. Some discrepancies among the
Leslie D. Montgomery, Richard W. Montgomery, Wayne A. Gerth, Michael Bodo, Julian M. Stewart and Marty Loughry
This paper describes a new combined impedance plethysmographic (IPG) and electrical bioimpedance spectroscopic (BIS) instrument and software that will allow noninvasive real-time measurement of segmental blood flow, intracellular, interstitial, and intravascular volume changes during various fluid management procedures. The impedance device can be operated either as a fixed frequency IPG for the quantification of segmental blood flow and hemodynamics or as a multi-frequency BIS for the recording of intracellular and extracellular resistances at 40 discrete input frequencies. The extracellular volume is then deconvoluted to obtain its intravascular and interstitial component volumes as functions of elapsed time. The purpose of this paper is to describe this instrumentation and to demonstrate the information that can be obtained by using it to monitor segmental compartment volume responses of a pig model during simulated hemorrhage and resuscitation. Such information may prove valuable in the diagnosis and management of rapid changes in the body fluid balance and various clinical treatments.
Michael Bodo, Ryan Sheppard, Aaron Hall, Martin Baruch, Melissa Laird, Shravalya Tirumala and Richard Mahon
Measuring brain electrical impedance (rheoencephalography) is a potential technique for noninvasive, continuous neuro-monitoring of cerebral blood flow autoregulation in humans. In the present rat study, we compared changes in cerebral blood flow autoregulation during CO2 inhalation measured by rheoencephalography to changes measured by laser Doppler flowmetry, an invasive continuous monitoring modality. Our hypothesis was that both modalities would reflect cerebral blood flow autoregulation.
Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n=28; 28 control and 82 CO2 challenges) were measured under anesthesia. The surgical preparation involved implantation of intracerebral REG electrodes and an LDF probe into the brain. Analog waveforms were stored in a computer.
CO2 inhalation caused transient, simultaneous increases in the signals of both laser Doppler flow (171.99 ± 46.68 %) and rheoencephalography (329.88 ± 175.50%). These results showed a correlation between the two measured modalities; the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.8394.
The similar results obtained by measurements made with laser Doppler flowmetry and rheoencephalography indicate that rheo-encephalography, like laser Doppler flowmetry, reflects cerebral blood flow autoregulation. Rheoencephalography therefore shows potential for use as a continuous neuro-monitoring technique.