Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)



First Advisor

Nils Petersen


The purpose of this thesis is to review the concept of cerebral autoregulation, to establish the feasibility of continuous bedside monitoring of autoregulation, and to examine the impact of impaired autoregulation on functional and clinical outcomes following subarachnoid hemorrhage and ischemic stroke. Autoregulation plays a key role in the regulation of brain blood flow and has been shown to fail in acute brain injury. Disturbed autoregulation may lead to secondary brain injury as well as worse outcomes. Furthermore, there exist several methodologies, both invasive and non-invasive, for the continuous assessment of autoregulation in individual patients. Resultant autoregulatory parameters of brain blood flow can be harnessed to derive optimal cerebral perfusion pressures, which may be targeted to achieve better outcomes. Multiple studies in adults and several in children have highlighted the feasibility of individualizing mean arterial pressure in this fashion.

The thesis herein argues for the high degree of translatability of this personalized approach within the neuroscience intensive care unit, while underscoring the clinical import of autoregulation monitoring in critical care patients. In particular, this document recapitulates findings from two separate, prospectively enrolled patient groups with subarachnoid hemorrhage and ischemic stroke, elucidating how deviation from dynamic and personalized blood pressure targets associates with worse outcome in each cohort. While definitive clinical benefits remain elusive (pending randomized controlled trials), autoregulation-guided blood pressure parameters wield great potential for constructing an ideal physiologic environment for the injured brain.

The first portion of this thesis discusses basic autoregulatory physiology as well as various tools to interrogate the brain’s pressure reactivity at the bedside. It then reviews the development of the optimal cerebral perfusion pressure as a biological hemodynamic construct. The second chapter pertains to the clinical applications of bedside neuromonitoring in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. In this section, the personalized approach to blood pressure monitoring is discussed in greater detail. Finally, in the third chapter, a similar autoregulation-oriented blood pressure algorithm is applied to a larger cohort of patients with ischemic stroke. This section contends that our novel, individualized strategy to hemodynamic management in stroke patients represents a better alternative to the currently endorsed practice of maintaining systolic blood pressures below fixed and static thresholds.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access