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Background: We assessed whether a near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)-based algorithm for the personalized optimization of cerebral oxygenation during cardiopulmonary bypass combined with a restrictive red cell transfusion threshold would reduce perioperative injury to the brain, heart, and kidneys. Methods: In a randomized controlled trial, participants in three UK centres were randomized with concealed allocation to a NIRS (INVOS 5100; Medtronic Inc., Minneapolis, MN, USA)-based 'patient-specific' algorithm that included a restrictive red cell transfusion threshold (haematocrit 18%) or to a 'generic' non-NIRS-based algorithm (standard care). The NIRS algorithm aimed to maintain cerebral oxygenation at an absolute value of > 50% or at > 70% of baseline values. The primary outcome for the trial was cognitive function measured up to 3 months postsurgery. Results: The analysis population comprised eligible randomized patients who underwent valve or combined valve surgery and coronary artery bypass grafts using cardiopulmonary bypass between December 2009 and January 2014 ( n =98 patient-specific algorithm; n =106 generic algorithm). There was no difference between the groups for the three core cognitive domains (attention, verbal memory, and motor coordination) or for the non-core domains psychomotor speed and visuo-spatial skills. The NIRS group had higher scores for verbal fluency; mean difference 3.73 (95% confidence interval 1.50, 5.96). Red cell transfusions, biomarkers of brain, kidney, and myocardial injury, adverse events, and health-care costs were similar between the groups. Conclusions: These results do not support the use of NIRS-based algorithms for the personalized optimization of cerebral oxygenation in adult cardiac surgery. Clinical trial registration: , ISRCTN 23557269.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Anaesth

Publication Date





384 - 393


cardiopulmonary bypass, cerebral oxygenation; cognitive dysfunction, near-infrared, spectroscopy