Key messages

• Development of fiber-optic technology has allowed continuous monitoring of jugular venous oxygen saturation during intensive care in patients at significant risk from cerebral ischemia.

• Previously undetected episodes of cerebral hypoperfusion that affect outcome have been identified following severe brain trauma.

• The technique allows early detection and correction of cerebral hypoperfusion, which is usually due to low blood pressure and the use of excessive hyperventilation.

• During intensive care periods of erroneous recording occur in as many as 60 per cent of patients.

• At the present time jugular venous oxygen saturation monitoring remains the most practical method of continuous monitoring for cerebral hypoperfusion in critical neurosurgical patients.

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