Relationships among cerebral perfusion pressure, autoregulation, and transcranial Doppler waveform: A modeling study

Mauro Ursino, Marco Giulioni, Carlo Alberto Lodi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Object. The aim of this study was to analyze how the main values extrapolated from the transcranial Doppler (TCD) waveform (systolic, mean, and diastolic velocity; velocity peak-to-peak amplitude; and pulsatility index [PI]) are affected by changes in intracranial pressure (ICP), systemic arterial pressure (SAP), autoregulation, and intracranial compliance. Methods. The analysis was performed using a mathematical model of the intracranial dynamics. This model includes a passive middle cerebral artery, the biomechanics of large and small pial arteries subjected to autoregulatory mechanisms, a collapsing venous cerebrovascular bed, the cerebrospinal fluid circulation, and the ICP-volume relationship. The results indicate that there are approximately three distinct zones characterized by different relationships between cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) and velocity parameters in patients with preserved autoregulation. In the central autoregulatory zone (CPP > 70 mm Hg) the mean velocity does not change with decreasing CPP, whereas the PI and velocity peak-to-peak amplitude increase moderately. In a second zone (CPP between 40-45 and 70 mm Hg), in which vasodilation of small pial arteries becomes maximal, the mean velocity starts to decrease, whereas the PI and velocity amplitude continue to increase. In the third zone, in which autoregulation is completely exhausted (CPP <40 mm Hg), arterioles behave passively, mean velocity and velocity amplitude decline abruptly, and the PI exhibits a disproportionate rise. Moreover, this rise is quite independent of whether CPP is reduced by increasing ICP or reducing mean SAP. In contrast, in patients with defective autoregulation, the mean velocity and velocity amplitude decrease linearly with decreasing CPP, but the PI still increases in a way similar to that observed in patients with preserved autoregulation. Conclusions. The information contained in the TCD waveform is affected by many factors, including ICP, SAP, autoregulation, and intracranial compliance. Model results indicate that only a comparative analysis of the concomitant changes in ultrasonographic quantities during multimodality monitoring may permit the assessment of several aspects of intracranial dynamics (cerebral blood flow changes, vascular pulsatility, ICP changes, intracranial compliance, CPP, and autoregulation).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-266
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1998


  • Cerebral autoregulation cerebral perfusion pressure
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Pulsatility index
  • Transcranial Doppler ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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