Transcranial assessment of maternal cerebral blood flow velocity in patients with pre-eclampsia


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Toyohashi Municipal Hospital 50 Hakken nishi, Aotake-cho, Toyohashi, 441, Japan


Background. To clarify the cerebral hemodynamics in pre-eclamptic pregnant women, we investigated the blood flow velocity of the cerebral arteries.

Methods. The mean blood flow velocity and pulsatility index (PI) of the middle cerebral artery (MCA) and internal carotid artery (ICA) in normal pregnant women (n=35) and preeclamptic patients (n=18) were examined transcranially using pulsed-wave Doppler technique with a 2 MHz probe. In two pre-eclamptic women with post-partum visual disturbance, we examined the mean blood flow velocity and PI of the MCA and ICA every day.

Results. The mean blood flow velocity of the MCA in the pre-eclamptic patients (89.7±20.5 cm/s) was significantly higher than that in the normal pregnant women (53.6±16.9 cm/s) (p<0.05). PI of the MCA in the former group (0.67±0.13) was significantly lower than that in the latter (0.78±0.02) (p<0.05). There was no significant difference between these two groups in these variables of the ICA. In the two patients with visual disturbance, the mean blood flow velocity of the MCA was increased before the onset of visual disturbance and decreased gradually following the disappearance of this symptom. In these patients, spasm of the MCA was confirmed by magnetic resonance angiography.

Conclusions. In pre-eclamptic patients, we found increased MCA mean velocity before the onset of visual disturbance. Transcranial Doppler may be useful for the evaluation of cerebral hemodynamics and the prediction of eclampsia.