Mechanisms of reduced cerebral blood flow in cerebral edema and elevated intracranial pressure

Yuliya Zadka, Omer Doron, Guy Rosenthal, Ofer Barnea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A mechanism of elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) in cerebral edema and its effects on cerebral blood flow (CBF) are presented in this paper. To study and demonstrate these effects, a mathematical model of intracranial hydrodynamics was developed. The model simulates the intracranial hydrodynamics and the changes that occur when cerebral edema predominates. To account for an edema pathology, the model includes resistances to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and interstitial fluid (ISF) flows within the parenchyma. The resistances change as the intercellular space becomes smaller due to swelling of brain cells. The model demonstrates the effect of changes in these resistances on ICP and venous resistance to blood flow by accounting for the key interactions between pressure, volume, and flow in the intracranial compartments in pathophysiological conditions. The model represents normal intracranial physiology as well as pathological conditions. Simulating cerebral edema with increased resistance to cerebral ISF flow resulted in elevated ICP, increased brain volume, markedly reduced ventricular volume, and decreased CBF as observed in the neurointensive care patients. The model indicates that in high ICP values, alternation of the arterial-arteriolar resistance to flow minimally affects CBF, whereas at low ICP they have a much greater effect on CBF. The model demonstrates and elucidates intracranial mechanisms related to elevated ICP.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Study goal was to elucidate the role of "bulk flow" of ISF through brain parenchyma. A model was developed to simulate fluid shifts in brain edema, ICP elevation, and their effect on CBF. Bulk flow resistance affected by edema elevates ICP and reduces CBF. Bulk flow affects transmural pressure and volume distribution in brain compartments. Changes in bulk flow resistance result in increase of venous resistance to flow and decrease in CBF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-454
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • brain edema
  • cerebral interstitial fluid
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • electrical analog model
  • intracranial fluid dynamics


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