Transcranial Doppler Ultrasonography Provides Insights into Neurovascular Changes in Children with Cerebral Malaria

Nicole Fortier O'Brien, Tshimanga Mutatshi Taty, Melissa Moore-Clingenpeel, Joseph Bodi Mabiala, Jean Mbaka Pongo, Davin Ambitapio Musungufu, Mananu Uchama, Marcel Yotebieng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate neurovascular changes in pediatric patients with cerebral malaria. Study design: African children with cerebral malaria were enrolled and underwent daily transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) examinations through hospital day 8, discharge, or death. Neurologic outcomes were assessed 2 weeks after enrollment. Results: In total, 160 children with cerebral malaria and 155 comparison patients were included. In patients with cerebral malaria, TCD flow changes characterized as hyperemia were seen in 42 (26%), low flow in 46 (28%), microvascular obstruction in 35 (22%), cerebral vasospasm in 21 (13%), and isolated posterior hyperemia in 7 (4%). Most had a single neurovascular phenotype observed throughout participation. Among comparison patients, 76% had normal TCD findings (P <.001). Impaired autoregulation was present in 80% of cases (transient hyperemic response ratio 1.01 ± 0.03) but improved through day 4 (1.1 ± 0.02, P =.014). Overall mortality was 24% (n = 39). Neurologic deficits were evident in 21% of survivors. Children meeting criteria for vasospasm were most likely to survive with sequelae, and children meeting criteria for low flow were most likely to die. Autoregulation was better in children with a normal neurologic outcome (1.09, 95% CI 1.06-1.12) than in others (0.98, 95% CI 0.95-1) (P ≤.001). Conclusions: Several distinct changes in TCD measurements were identified in children with cerebral malaria that permitted phenotypic grouping. Groups had distinct associations with neurologic outcomes. Validation of pathogenic mechanisms associated with each phenotype may aid in developing TCD as a portable, easy-to-use tool to help guide targeted adjunctive therapy in cerebral malaria aimed at causative mechanisms of injury on an individual level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-124.e3
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • central nervous system infection
  • cerebral blood flow
  • global health
  • transcranial Doppler ultrasound
  • under five mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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