Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Medical Biophysics


Dr. Ting-Yim Lee


Mild hypothermia at 32-35oC (HT) has been shown to be neuroprotective for neurological emergencies following severe head trauma, cardiac arrest and neonatal asphyxia. However, HT has not been widely deployed in clinical settings because: firstly, cooling the whole body below 33-34°C can induce severe complications; therefore, applying HT selectively to the brain could minimize adverse effects by maintaining core body temperature at normal level. Secondly, development of an effective and easy to implement selective brain cooling (SBC) technique, which can quickly induce brain hypothermia while avoiding complications from whole body cooling, remains a challenge. In this thesis, we studied the feasibility and efficiency of selective brain cooling (SBC) through nasopharyngeal cooling. To control the cooling and rewarming rate and because core body temperature is different from brain temperature, we also developed a non-invasive technique based on time-resolved near infrared spectroscopy (TR-NIRS) to measure local brain temperature. In normal brain, cerebral blood flow (CBF) and energy metabolism as reflected by the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) is tightly coupled leading to an oxygen extraction efficiency (OEF) of around ~33%. A decoupling of the two as in ischemia signifies oxidative stress and would lead to an increase in OEF beyond the normal value of ~33%. The final goal of this thesis is to evaluate TR-NIRS methods for measurements of CBF and CMRO2 to monitor for oxidative metabolism in the brain with and without HT treatment.

Chapter 2 presents investigations on the feasibility and efficiency of the nasopharyngeal SBC by blowing room temperature or humidified cooled air into the nostrils. Effective brain cooling at a median cooling rate of 5.6 ± 1.1°C/hour compared to whole body cooling rate of 3.2 ± 0.7 was demonstrated with the nasopharyngeal cooling method.

Chapter 3 describes TR-NIRS experiments performed to measure brain temperature non-invasively based on the temperature-dependence of the water absorption peaks at ~740 and 840nm. The TR-NIRS method was able to measure brain temperature with a mean difference of 0.5 ± 1.6°C (R2 = 0.66) between the TR-NIRS and thermometer measurements.

Chapter 4 describes the TR-NIR technique developed to measure CBF and CMRO2 in a normoxia animal model under different anesthetics at different brain temperatures achieved by whole-body cooling. Both CBF and CMRO2 decreased with decreasing brain temperature but the ratio CMRO2:CBF (OEF) remained unchanged around the normal value of ~33%. These results demonstrate that TR-NIR can be used to monitor the oxidative status of the brain in neurological emergencies and its response to HT treatment.

In summary, this thesis has established a convenient method for selective brain cooling without decreasing whole body temperature to levels when adverse effects could be triggered. TR-NIRS methods are also developed for monitoring local brain temperature to guide SBC treatment and for monitoring the oxidation status of the brain as treatment progresses.