Automated pupillometry and detection of clinical transtentorial brain herniation: A case series

Alexander Papangelou, Elizabeth K. Zink, Wan Tsu W. Chang, Anthony Frattalone, Daniel Gergen, Allan Gottschalk, Romergryko G. Geocadin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Introduction: Transtentorial herniation (TTH) is a life-threatening neurologic condition that typically results from expansion of supratentorial mass lesions. A change in bedside pupillary examination is central to the clinical diagnosis of TTH. Materials and Methods: To quantify the changes in the pupillary examination that precede and accompany TTH and its treatment, we evaluated 12 episodes of herniation in three patients with supratentorial mass lesions using automated pupillometry (NeurOptics, Inc., Irvine, CA). Herniation was defined clinically by the onset of fixed and dilated pupils in association with decreased levels of consciousness. Automated pupillometry was measured simultaneously with the bedside clinical examination, but the clinical team was blinded to these results and could not act on the data. Data from the pupillometer were downloaded 1-2 times per week onto a secured laptop, and data processing was facilitated by the use of Mathematica 8.0. Results: Neurologic Pupil Index measurements, values generated by the pupillometer based on an algorithm that incorporates pupillary size and reactivity in a normal population, were found to be abnormal before 73% of TTHs. This abnormality occurred at a median of 7.4 h before TTH. All episodes of TTH were reversed after clinical intervention at a median of 43 min after the event. The value did not fall to 0 in 42% of clinical herniations, but it did decrease to very abnormal values of 0.5-0.8. Conclusions: The potential of automated pupillometry to guide the management of severely injured neurologic patients is intriguing and warrants further study in the critical care unit and beyond. The utility of a portable device in the combat setting may allow for triage of patients with severe neurologic injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e113-e121
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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