Near-infrared spectroscopic localization of intracranial hematomas.
Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) of the cerebral hemispheres, applied transcranially through the intact scalp and skull, was evaluated for its ability to detect the presence of an intracranial hematoma in 46 head-injured patients. In 40 patients intracranial hematomas (22 subdural, 10 epidural, eight intracerebral) were identified on computerized tomography (CT); in all 40 cases, NIRS demonstrated greater absorption of light at 760 nm on the side of the hematoma. The mean difference in optical density (OD) between the hemisphere with the hematoma and the normal hemisphere was 0.99 +/- 0.30 for epidural hematomas, 0.87 +/- 0.31 for subdural hematomas, but only 0.41 +/- 0.11 for intracerebral hematomas. In 36 patients, the asymmetry in OD resolved after surgical evacuation of the hematoma or with spontaneous resorption of the hematoma. Four patients who developed postoperative or delayed hematomas exhibited persistence of the asymmetry in OD. Six patients had only diffuse injuries and exhibited only minor differences in OD between the hemispheres, similar to 10 patients in the control group with no head injury. It appears that NIRS is useful in the initial examination of the head-injured patient, as an adjunct to CT, and in following patients postoperatively in the intensive care unit.