Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology vol:32 issue:1 pages:56-62
Cerebral artery Doppler ultrasonography was used to study the cerebral blood-flow velocity and cerebral oxygen transport of infants requiring a blood transfusion to correct anaemia. Mean flow velocity, pulsatility index and haemoglobin concentration were determined before and after transfusion. 11 stable preterm infants demonstrated an inverse relationship between haemoglobin concentration (or estimated arterial oxygen content) and mean flow velocity, indicating the presence of a homeostatic mechanism keeping brain oxygen transport within certain limits. Three infants with severe post-asphyxial encepalopathy had relatively high mean flow velocities and low pulsatility indices both before and after transfusion. There were no circulatory adjustments in response to an increase in haemoglobin concentration. Thus severe asphyxia at birth disrupted the homeostatic mechanism responsible for keeping brain oxygen transport constant. These findings stress the importance of close monitoring of arterial oxygen content, particularly for infants with severe post-asphyxial encephalopathy.