New technique for measuring blood flow to brain in babies

November 28, 2002

Authors of a research letter in this week's issue of THE LANCET describe how an ultrasound technique can be used as a non-invasive way of measuring blood flow to the brain in babies, which may be of benefit to infants with brain disorders arising from restrictions in cerebral blood flow.

Changes in the rate of blood flow to the brain in premature and full-term babies may be the cause of ischaemic brain damage; up until now, however, it has not been possible to quantitatively measure blood flow to the brain without exposing babies to radiation.

Martin Schöning and colleagues from University Childrens Hospital, Tübingen, Germany, used ultrasound techniques to measure the cerebral blood flow of 67 healthy premature and full-term babies. Cerebral blood flow was much greater in full-term babies (around 85 millilitres per minute) compared with premature babies (around 33 millilitres per minute). The investigators comment how this non-invasive method will allow quantitative bedside monitoring of brain blood flow in babies at risk of brain damage, and could also be used to monitor the effects of preventive therapies for neurological disorders in infants.

Martin Schöning comments: "The innocuous ultrasound method presented here enables us for the first time to investigate the physiological development of brain blood flow in preterm and term infants as, for ethical reasons, the established radionuclide techniques cannot be given to healthy babies. There are many potential applications of this method in clinics and research--especially in premature babies in which the risk of developing ischaemic or haemorrhagic brain lesions is higher than at any time up to old age."
Contact: Dr Martin Schöning,
University Children's Hospital, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany;
T) (49-707-1298-3771);
F) (49-707-129-5473);


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