Doppler color-flow imaging: screening of a patent foramen ovale in children scheduled for neurosurgery in the sitting position

G Fuchs, G Schwarz, J Stein, F Kaltenböck, A Baumgartner, R W Oberbauer
Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology 1998, 10 (1): 5-9
A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is the most common cause of paradoxical air embolism during neurosurgical procedures in the posterior fossa in the sitting position in both adults and children. To detect right-to-left shunting, we performed Doppler color-flow imaging preoperatively in 30 children scheduled for neurosurgical procedures in the sitting position. A PFO was diagnosed on the basis of color alterations indicating an immediate blood shunt through a PFO. Six of 30 children (20%) had a PFO; in 4 of these children the sitting position then was avoided, and 2 children were operated on in a special supine position with minimal elevation of the head. Venous air embolism occurred in 9 of 24 (37%) children operated on in the sitting position and in none of the 6 children operated on in a nonsitting position. We conclude that Doppler color-flow mapping could be a useful noninvasive technique to screen children scheduled for neurosurgery in the sitting position for the presence of a PFO.

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