Focal cerebral hyperemia after focal head injury in humans: A benign phenomenon?

D. E. Sakas, M. R. Bullock, J. Patterson, D. Hadley, D. J. Wyper, G. M. Teasdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


To assess the relationship between posttraumatic cerebral hyperemia and focal cerebral damage, the authors performed cerebral blood flow mapping studies by single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) in 53 patients within 3 weeks of brain injury. Focal zones of hyperemia were present in 38% of patients. Hyperemia was correlated with clinical features and early computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging performed within 48 hours of the SPECT study and late CT and MR studies at 3 months. The hyperemia was observed primarily in structurally normal brain tissue (both gray and white matter), as revealed by CT and MR imaging, immediately adjacent to intraparenchymal or extracerebral focal lesions; it persisted for up to 10 days, but was never seen within the edematous pericontusional zones. The percentage of patients in the hyperemic group having brief (< 30 minutes) or no loss of consciousness was significantly higher than in the nonhyperemic group (twice as high, p < 0.05). Other clinical parameters were not significantly more common in the hyperemic group. The mortality of patients with focal hyperemia was lower than that of individuals without it, and the outcome of survivors with hyperemia was slightly better than patients without hyperemia. These results differ from the literature, which suggests that global posttraumatic hyperemia is primarily an acute, malignant phenomenon associated with increased intracranial pressure, profound unconsciousness, and poor outcome. The current results agree with more recent studies which show that posttraumatic hyperemia may occur across a wide spectrum of head injury severity and may be associated with favorable outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-284
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995


  • cerebral blood flow ischemia
  • head injury
  • hyperemia
  • infarction
  • single-photon emission computerized tomography
  • subdural hematoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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