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Home > Archives > Volume 7, No 2 (2009) > Article

DOI: 10.14704/nq.2009.7.2.229

Probing Brain Oxygenation with Near Infrared Spectroscopy

Alexander Gersten, Jacqueline Perle, Amir Raz, Robert Fried


The fundamentals of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) are reviewed. This technique allows to measure the oxygenation of the brain tissue. The particular problems involved in detecting regional brain oxygenation (rSO2) are discussed. The dominant chromophore (light absorber) in tissue is water. Only in the NIR light region of 650-1000 nm, the overall absorption is sufficiently low, and the NIR light can be detected across a thick layer of tissues, among them the skin, the scull and the brain. In this region, there are many absorbing light chromophores, but only three are important as far as the oxygenation is concerned. They are the hemoglobin (HbO2), the deoxy-hemoglobin (Hb) and cytochrome oxidase (CtOx). In the last 20 years there was an enormous growth in the instrumentation and applications of NIRS. The devices that were used in our experiments were: Somanetics's INVOS Brain Oximeter (IBO) and Toomim's HEG spectrophotometer. The performances of both devices were compared including their merits and drawbacks. The IBO is based on extensive efforts of an R&D group to develop a reliable device, which measures well the rSO2. It is now used efficiently in operating rooms, saving human lives and expenses. Its use for research however has two drawbacks: the sampling rate is too small and the readings are limited to only two significant digits. The HEG device does not have these drawbacks, but is not developed sufficiently at this time to measure rSO2. We have measured the HEG readings and compared them with the rSO2 readings of the IBO. Our findings show that the HEG can be used to measure relative changes of rSO2.


Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), INVOS Brain Oximeter, HEG, rSO2

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