Intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring has a key role in the management of neurosurgical and neurological injuries. Currently, the standard clinical monitoring of ICP requires an invasive transducer into the parenchymal tissue or the brain ventricle, with possibility of complications such as hemorrhage and infection. A non-invasive method for measuring ICP, would be highly preferable, as it would allow clinicians to promptly monitor ICP during transport and allow for monitoring in a larger number of patients.
We have introduced diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) as a non-invasive ICP monitor by fast measurement of pulsatile cerebral blood flow (CBF). The method is similar to Transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD), which derives ICP from the amplitude of the pulsatile cerebral blood flow velocity, with respect to the amplitude of the pulsatile arterial blood pressure. We believe DCS measurement is superior indicator of ICP than TCD estimation because DCS directly measures blood flow, not blood flow velocity, and the small cortical vessels measured by DCS are more susceptible to transmural pressure changes than the large vessels.
For fast DCS measurements to recover pulsatile CBF we have developed a custom high-power long-coherent laser and a strategy for delivering it to the tissue within ANSI standards. We have also developed a custom FPGA-based correlator board, which facilitates DCS data acquisitions at 50-100 Hz. We have tested the feasibility of measuring pulsatile CBF and deriving ICP in two challenging scenarios: humans and rats. SNR is low in human adults due to large optode distances. It is similarly low in rats because the fast heart rate in this setting requires a high repetition rate.