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Signa Vitae

Journal of Anaesthesia, Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine

Frequency dependent effect of selective biphasic left vagus nerve stimulation on heart rate and arterial pressure


Activation of the parasympathetic pathway leads to negative chronotropic, dromotropic, and inotropic changes of heart function. The ability to selectively stimulate certain superficial compartments of peripheral nerves has been demonstrated previously. The aim of the present study was to find a clinically acceptable selective biphasic vagus nerve stimulation technique, which could allow gradual regulation of heart rate and systemic arterial pressure.  In two patients, the left vagus nerve was stimulated with a combination of quasi-trapezoidal cathodic and rectangular anodic current pulses with different stimulation frequencies (10Hz, 20Hz, 30Hz) and increasing current. The heart rate and systemic arterial pressure decreased with increasing current at all different stimulation frequencies (p<0.05). The heart rate and arterial pressure response was more gradual with 10Hz compared to 20Hz/30Hz vagus nerve stimulation (p<0.05). In conclusion, selective vagus nerve stimulation, with a combination of quasi-trapezoidal cathodic and rectangular anodic current pulses at 10Hz, offers gradual heart rate and systolic arterial pressure control.


Key words: vagus nerve, electrical stimulation, heart rate, arterial pressure

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Mini invasive hemodynamic monitoring: from arterial pressure to cardiac output


To evaluate the Cardiac Output (CO) the standard invasive pulmonary artery catheter (PAC) is considered today the gold standard. The major criticism to the PAC is that its level of invasiveness is not supported by an improvement in patient’s outcome. The interest to lesser and lesser invasive techniques is high. Therefore, the alternative techniques have been recently developed.
Cardiac Output can be monitored continuously by different devices that analyze the arterial waveform to track changes in stroke volume (SV) and CO. The analysis of the arterial pressure wave to determine cardiac output is classified as Pulse Contour analysis or Pulse Pressure Analysis. Starting from a similar principle three main devices are now available on the market, with different algorithms and features:

• PiCCO System (Pulsion Medical System, Munich, Germany)
• LiDCOTM plus System (LidCO, Cambridge, UK)
• Flotrac technology and Vigileo Monitor (Edwards Lifesciences, Irvine, CA, USA).

The algorithm used by all these devices has been also implemented even with the analysis of the variation of stroke volume (SVV) and of the pulse pressure (PPV). SVV and PPV represent the variation of stroke volume and of the pulse pressure during the respiratory cycle. In sedated ventilated patients these indexes have proven to predict the response to a fluid challenge. A high variation (>10-12%) identifies with good sensitivity and specificity responders and not responders.

Key words: cardiac output, arterial pressure, stroke volume variation, pulse pressure variation

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