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La protection du cerveau est devenue une préoccupation majeure pour ceux qui font face à des situations où une agression en menace son intégrité fonctionnelle. Les barbituriques ont fait ľobjet de nombreux travaux expérimentaux; cependant les données chez ľhomme font défaut en raison de la limitation des méthodes de mesures. Au cours de ce travail, huit patients ont reçu un bolus de thiopental 6 mg·kg-1 de thiopental suivi ďune perfusion de 14 mg·kg-1 ·heure{-1}. Le débit sanguin cérébral (CBF) mesuré à ľaide ďun traceur radioactif, soit le Xenon133 injecté dans ľartère carotide interne, a subi une baisse de 28 pour cent 20 minutes après le début de ľexpérience, baisse s’établissant à 30 pour cent après une heure ďinfusion de thiopental. Quant à la consommation cérébrale en oxygène (CMRo2), elle a diminué de 35 pour cent pour s’établir à 46 pour cent après une heure ďinfusion. Ces résultats tendent à confirmer que c’est en diminuant la fonction cérébrale (perte de conscience) que les barbituriques provoquent une baisse rapide et importante du débit sanguin cérébral. D’ailleurs, comme nous ľavons démontré, la baisse du CBF et de la CMRo2 est beaucoup plus lente par la suite si ľon en juge par les chiffres qu’on vient de rapporter. Si la protection du cerveau attribuée aux barbituriques est proportionnelle à cette baisse du débit sanguin cérébral, les quantités relativement faibles que nous avons utilisées au cours du présent travail sont certes efficaces à assurer une certaine protection au cerveau en cas ďinjures. De plus, à la dose que nous ľavons employé, le thiopental offre une stabilité cardio-vasculaire et un temps de réveil relativement court, ce qui, à notre avis, devient un atout précieux si nous voulons ľutiliser en neuro-anesthésie.


The protection of the brain is still one of the major concerns for those involved in the treatment of the severely injured and neurosurgical patients.

Although it is well known that barbiturates can afford some protection in experimental animals and in man by decreasing the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRo2) and the cerebral blood flow (CBF), there are no precise data available in the medical literature as to how much thiopentone at a dose usually employed in clinical practice might decrease the CMRo2 and the CBF in man.

The cerebral blood flow, regional cerebral blood flow and the CMRo2 were measured in eight patients after an intra-arterial injection of Xenon133, according to a method described by Hoedt-Rasmussen and Paulson. Following this they were given a bolus of thiopentone 6 mg · kg-1 followed by an 0.4 per cent infusion of thiopentone adjusted to deliver 14 mg · kg-1 hourly. The measures were then repeated at 20. 40 and 60 minutes after induction time. Using this technique, a 28 per cent reduction in CBF was noted 20 minutes after the beginning of the experiment and a 35 per cent reduction in CMRo2 was also recorded, followed by a 30 per cent reduction in CBF and a 46 per cent reduction in CMRo2 one hour later.

This tends to confirm the hypothesis that the protection offered by the barbiturates is related to the loss of consciousness (loss of function) since the decrease in CBF and CMRo2 after one hour of infusion had somewhat plateaued. If the cerebral protection attributed to the barbiturates is proportional to the decrease in the CBF, then the relatively small doses employed in the present study would be sufficient to assure brain protection during an insult. Following the termination of the infusion, the arousal time was fairly rapid. It was also found that the decrease in the CBF and the CMRo2 was comparable to what has been found by other workers, using much higher dosage. Respiratory depression has been minimal as the\(Pa_{CO_2 } \)increased by only 0.8 kPa (6 mm Hg). This technique has also offered excellent stability from the cardiovascular standpoint. Consequently, it is suggested that thiopentone infusion might be the technique of choice for neuroradiological procedures such as pneumoencephalography and cerebral angiography.

Finally, assuming that the protection of the brain is related and proportional to the reduction in the CBF and the CMRo2 and, accordingly, to a relatively small dose of thiopentone as it is indicated in the present work, it is suggested that this mode of anaesthesia be revisited in neurosurgery and carotid surgery.


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Correspondence to J. Coté or D. Simard or M. Rouillard.

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Coté, J., Simard, D. & Rouillard, M. REPERCUSSION SUR LE DEBIT SANGUIN CEREBRAL D’UNE PERFUSION DE THIOPENTAL. Canad. Anaesth. Soc. J. 26, 269–276 (1979).

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