Brain temperature and limits on transcranial cooling in humans: quantitative modeling results

This paper reports on the use of mathematical modeling to explore whether surface cooling can control effectively the temperature of the human cerebrum

D. A. Nelson; S. A. Nunneley

2002

Key concepts

Scholarcy highlights

  • Selective brain cooling of varying strengths has been demonstrated in a number of mammals and appears to play a role in systemic thermoregulation
  • Primates lack obvious specialization for SBC, the possibility of brain cooling in humans has been debated for many years
  • This paper reports on the use of mathematical modeling to explore whether surface cooling can control effectively the temperature of the human cerebrum
  • Cerebral temperatures were generally insensitive to surface conditions, which affected only the most superficial level of the cerebrum The remaining parenchymal temperatures were 0.2–0.3°C above arterial temperatures, regardless of surface conditions
  • Modeling showed that the low surface-to-volume ratio, low tissue conductivity, and high rate of cerebral perfusion combine to minimize the potential impact of surface cooling, whether by transcranial venous flow or by conduction through intervening layers to the skin or mucosal surfaces
  • The dense capillary network in the brain assures that its temperature closely follows arterial temperature and is controlled through systemic thermoregulation independent of head surface temperature
  • Given the fact that humans sometimes work under conditions which produce face and scalp temperatures that are above core temperature, a transcranial thermal link would not necessarily protect the brain, but might instead increase its vulnerability to environmentally induced thermal injury

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