Use of cerebral oximetry to detect and manage cerebral desaturation with a rapidly expanding neck hematoma


Dr Ozan Akça
Outcomes Research Institute
MedCenter One
501 E. Broadway, Suite 210
Louisville, KY 40202


Background: We report a case in which cerebral oximetry was used to successfully demonstrate when cerebral oxygen saturation is dangerously low.

Methods: In a 60-year-old-man with end-stage multiple myeloma and hyperviscosity syndrome, a rapidly expanding hematoma developed after insertion of an internal jugular central venous catheter. As the hematoma expanded, the patient became lethargic and disoriented (Glasgow Coma Score of E2/M4-5/V2-ETT). His platelet count was 17,−3, hemoglobin was 4.5 g/dl, partial thromboplastin time was 51 s, and his international ratio was 1.7. Although carotid pulses became unpalpable, blood pressure and heart rate remained stable. Cerebral oximeter probes positioned on the patient's forehead showed that cerebral oxygen saturation was 22–26% bilaterally. The surgery team was advised to surgically evacuate the hematoma.

Results: The hematoma was evacuated and a small needle hole in the right internal jugular vein adjacent to the central-venous catheter was found and repaired. Cerebral oxygen saturation increased to 56–58% within 1 h and stabilized near 60%. The patient awoke with normal cognitive function.

Conclusion: This case demonstrates how cerebral oximetry can be used to give quantitative evidence of cerebral hypoxia, thus showing that immediate surgical intervention is necessary.