Regional cerebral blood flow, oxygen utilisation, fractional oxygen extraction, and cerebral blood volume were measured by positron emission tomography in twelve patients with carotid artery occlusion. Follow-up studies were carried out at a mean interval of eleven weeks after extracranial-intracranial bypass surgery. Clinical improvement was observed in three patients who had presented with frequent transient ischaemic attacks. One patient with multiple vascular occlusions suffered a stroke at the time of surgery. Follow-up studies showed an increase of regional cerebral blood flow in only two of the twelve patients. In the group as a whole, there was no significant change of cerebral blood flow, oxygen consumption or fractional oxygen extraction after bypass surgery. The most consistent post-operative change, observed in eleven of the twelve patients, was a fall of cerebral blood volume in the cortical territory of the bypassed carotid artery (p less than 0.01). This effect was most marked in patients with bilateral carotid occlusion, in whom there was often an accompanying fall of blood volume in the contralateral hemisphere. The post-operative findings were consistent with an increase of regional cerebral perfusion pressure as a result of the bypass procedure. Although this effect is potentially of value, those patients with most to gain from bypass surgery may also run the highest risk of peri-operative cerebral ischaemia.
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