Cerebral Autoregulation–Guided Optimal Blood Pressure in Sepsis-Associated Encephalopathy: A Case Series

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5 Scopus citations


Background: Impaired cerebral autoregulation and cerebral hypoperfusion may play a critical role in the high morbidity and mortality in patients with sepsis-associated encephalopathy (SAE). Bedside assessment of cerebral autoregulation may help individualize hemodynamic targets that optimize brain perfusion. We hypothesize that near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)–derived cerebral oximetry can identify blood pressure ranges that enhance autoregulation in patients with SAE and that disturbances in autoregulation are associated with severity of encephalopathy. Methods: Adult patients with acute encephalopathy directly attributable to sepsis were followed using NIRS-based multimodal monitoring for 12 consecutive hours. We used the correlation in time between regional cerebral oxygen saturation and mean arterial pressure (MAP) to determine the cerebral oximetry index (COx) as a measure of cerebral autoregulation. Autoregulation curves were constructed for each patient with averaged COx values sorted by MAP in 3 sequential 4-hour periods; the optimal pressure (MAPOPT), defined as the MAP associated with most robust autoregulation (lowest COx), was identified in each period. Severity of encephalopathy was measured with Glasgow coma scale (GCS). Results: Six patients with extracranial sepsis met the stringent criteria specified, including no pharmacological sedation or neurologic premorbidity. Optimal MAP was identified in all patients and ranged from 55 to 115 mmHg. Additionally, MAPOPT varied within individual patients over time during monitoring. Disturbed autoregulation, based on COx, was associated with worse neurologic status (GCS < 13) both with and without controlling for age and severity of sepsis (adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 2.11; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.77-2.52; P <.001; OR: 2.97; 95% CI: 1.63-5.43; P <.001). Conclusions: In this high-fidelity group of patients with SAE, continuous, NIRS-based monitoring can identify blood pressure ranges that improve autoregulation. This is important given the association between cerebral autoregulatory function and severity of encephalopathy. Individualizing blood pressure goals using bedside autoregulation monitoring may better preserve cerebral perfusion in SAE than current practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1453-1464
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Intensive Care Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • cerebral autoregulation
  • critical care
  • hemodynamics
  • multimodal monitoring
  • near-infrared spectroscopy
  • oximetry
  • sepsis
  • sepsis-associated encephalopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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