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Predicting brain pressure through non-invasive techniques

Image credit: Ivan Zhurov | Dreamstime

Doctors in Japan have discovered a non-invasive way to predict pressure on the brain by the organ’s natural resonance frequency.

According to experts, the only method to accurately measure the pressure inside the skull is to insert a catheter or sensor. However, this is invasive and techniques with less risk are desired. Furthermore, pressure on the brain, known as intracranial pressure (ICP), needs to be correctly accounted for in a variety of medical situations, including neurosurgery, neurology and emergency medicine.

To prevent the use of invasive techniques, doctors at Shinshu University School of Medicine in Japan have developed a non-invasive way to predict ICP through the brain’s natural resonance frequency (NRF).

This is the theoretical analysis of the resonance phenomenon in the skull

The theoretical analysis of the resonance phenomenon in the skull

Image credit: Shinshu University School of Medicine

The reasoning behind the use of this particular feature of the brain, according to the doctors, is because the NRF of the brain was found to be only dependent on the ICP value. The NRF determines the frequencies at which an object will vibrate when a force is applied.

The NRF of the brain can be measured from the movement of the eardrum and external ear pressure waveform. The NRF of an object is based, among other factors, on its mass and its elasticity. Meanwhile, the NRF of the brain is dependent on brain weight, which on average is 1.4kg and the cerebral volumetric compliance, or how much 'give' the skull has.

This is a graph of the relationship between the ICP value and the NRF of the brain

A graph of the relationship between the intracranial pressure (ICP) value and the natural resonance frequency (NRF) of the brain

Image credit: Copyright 2020, Springer Nature Limited

According to experts, many factors modulate the ICP value, such as the respiratory rhythm, which changes as much as 55 per cent with inhalation and exhalation. Moreover, the pressure inside the chest affects the pressure inside the vessels taking blood up to the brain, which then affects the ICP.

The medics found that was a strong correlation (R =0.99999) between the ICP value and NRF of the brain, which means that ICP can be predicted from the NRF, but expressed how more data needs to be collected for high ICP values and small brain weights.

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