Cortical spreading depolarizations induced by surgical field blood in a mouse model of neurosurgery

Anja I. Srienc, Pei Pei Chiang, Abby J. Schmitt, Eric A. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Cortical spreading depolarization (CSD) has been linked to poor clinical outcomes in the setting of traumatic brain injury, malignant stroke, and subarachnoid hemorrhage. There is evidence that electrocautery during neurosurgical procedures can also evoke CSD waves in the brain. It is unknown whether blood contacting the cortical surface during surgical bleeding affects the frequency of spontaneous or surgery-induced CSDs. Using a mouse neurosurgical model, the authors tested the hypothesis that electrocautery can induce CSD waves and that surgical field blood (SFB) is associated with more CSDs. The authors also investigated whether CSD can be reliably observed by monitoring the fluorescence of GCaMP6f expressed in neurons.

Methods: CSD waves were monitored by using confocal microscopy to detect fluorescence increases at the cortical surface in mice expressing GCaMP6f in CamKII-positive neurons. The cortical surface was electrocauterized through an adjacent burr hole. SFB was simulated by applying a drop of tail vein blood to the brain through the same burr hole.

Results: CSD waves were readily detected in GCaMP6f-expressing mice. Monitoring GCaMP6f fluorescence provided far better sensitivity and spatial resolution than detecting CSD events by observing changes in the intrinsic optical signal (IOS). Forty-nine percent of the CSD waves identified by GCaMP6f had no corresponding IOS signal. Electrocautery evoked CSD waves. On average, 0.67 ± 0.08 CSD events were generated per electrocautery episode, and multiple CSD waves could be induced in the same mouse by repeated cauterization (average, 7.9 ± 1.3 events; maximum number in 1 animal, 13 events). In the presence of SFB, significantly more spontaneous CSDs were generated (1.35 ± 0.37 vs 0.13 ± 0.16 events per hour, p = 0.002). Ketamine effectively decreased the frequency of spontaneous CSD waves (1.35 ± 0.37 to 0.36 ± 0.15 CSD waves per hour, p = 0.016) and electrocautery-stimulated CSD waves (0.80 ± 0.05 to 0.18 ± 0.08 CSD waves per electrocautery, p = 0.00002).

Conclusions: CSD waves are detected with far greater sensitivity and fidelity by monitoring GCaMP6f signals in neurons than by monitoring IOSs. Electrocautery reliably evokes CSD waves, and the frequency of spontaneous CSD waves is increased when blood is applied to the cortical surface. These experimental conditions recapitulate common scenarios in the neurosurgical operating room. Ketamine, a clinically available pharmaceutical agent, can block stimulated and spontaneous CSDs. More research is required to understand the clinical importance of intraoperative CSD.

Abbreviations: CSD = cortical spreading depolarization; IOS = intrinsic optical signal; IP = intraperitoneal; NMDA = N-methyl-d-aspartate; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; SFB = surgical field blood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1820-1828
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
Early online dateApr 5 2019
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health award number UL1TR000114 (to Anja I. Srienc) and the National Eye Institute awards R01EY026514 and R01EY026882 (to Eric A. Newman). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© AANS 2020, except where prohibited by US copyright law.


  • CSD
  • Cortical spreading depolarization
  • Electrocautery
  • GCaMP6f
  • Intraoperative bleeding
  • Ketamine
  • Mouse model
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Vascular disorders


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