Cooling Catheters for Selective Brain Hypothermia

T.K. Mattingly
Neurosurgical Associates
Richmond, VA

D.M. Pelz, S.P. Lownie
London Health Sciences Centre
London, Ontario, Canada

We read with interest “Endovascular Cooling Catheter for Selective Brain Hypothermia: An Animal Feasibility Study of Cooling Performance” by Cattaneo et al.1 The authors achieved mild brain hypothermia by using a novel indwelling cooling catheter. We appreciate the authors’ acknowledgment of our work in selective brain cooling.2However they may have misunderstood the TwinFlo catheter evaluated in our study (ThermopeutiX, San Diego, California). The TwinFlo inner coaxial balloon catheter is 9.5F, with an inner diameter of 2.0 mm (0.080 inches). This is well within the lumen size needed to perform simultaneous mechanical stent-retriever thrombectomy during selective brain cooling.

Reduction in brain metabolic demand is related to the depth of hypothermia.3 Brain cooling using the authors’ device was only mild (−4.2°C to −4.5°C) and took >2 hours to achieve. On the other hand, endovascular cold blood perfusion seems better able to achieve the very low temperatures (25°C–26°C) necessary to avert ischemic stroke and can do so very rapidly (<30°C in a median of 15 minutes). We demonstrated a substantial reduction in stroke volume in our large-animal model, despite starting cooling well into the reperfusion phase and after 3 hours of focal ischemia.


Thomas K. Mattingly—RELATED: Grant: Heart and Stroke Foundation,* ThermopeutiX,* Comments: HSF GIA 7273; ThermopeutiX provided the TwinFlo catheters and assisted in data collection on catheter performance. Stephen P. Lownie—Travel/Accommodations/Meeting Expenses Unrelated to Activities Listed: Vice-President, Canadian Neurosurgery Society. *Money paid to the institution.



G. Cattaneo
Acandis GmbH and Co. KG

Pforzheim, Germany

M. Schumacher
Department of Neuroradiology
University Hospital Freiburg,
Freiburg, Germany

G. Trummer
University Heart Center
University Hospital Freiburg,
Freiburg, Germany

H. Urbach, S. Meckel
Department of Neuroradiology
University Hospital Freiburg,
Freiburg, Germany

We would like to comment on the letter by our colleagues Mattingly et al regarding our article “Endovascular Cooling Catheter for Selective Brain Hypothermia: An Animal Feasibility Study of Cooling Performance.”1 We appreciate the innovative research by Mattingly et al,2 who have studied a novel catheter system dedicated to selective brain hypothermia in their recently published work. In our above-referenced article, we have underlined the cooling performance of the extracorporeal blood cooling system described in Mattingly et al2 with regard to the depth and velocity of the provided brain hypothermia.

Our endovascular approach for selective brain cooling is different in many respects from the technique presented by Mattingly et al. We aimed for a combination of selective brain cooling with mechanical thrombectomy for treatment of acute stroke related to large cerebral artery occlusion. Therefore, the inner coolant circuit of our catheter system provides for blood cooling independent of the larger central working lumen. The latter is dedicated to mechanical thrombectomy only and permanently allows stent-retriever placement and clot retrieval under aspiration without interfering with the cooling performance. Thus, our system can provide a very early selective brain hypothermia initiated before recanalization and extended during and after the critical phase of reperfusion; this system represents, in our view, a paradigm shift compared with recently favored postreperfusion cooling approaches. This “cold reperfusion” approach may allow early neuroprotection by addressing specific inflammatory pathways of ischemia and reperfusion insult as depicted by Pan et al,3 presumably increasing the therapeutic window for recanalization techniques in the future.

The TwinFlo catheter (ThermopeutiX, San Diego, California) system as described by Mattingly et al consists of a 14F outer catheter placed into the descending aorta and a 9.5F inner catheter with a balloon at the tip, placed into the common carotid artery, which supplies the ischemic hemisphere. In our understanding of the presented work, the inner lumen of 2-mm diameter is not free for use in mechanical thrombectomy and aspiration during cooling because it is needed for the inflow of cooled blood from the extracorporeal cooling circuit. We agree that the size of the inner catheter lumen is suitable for standard access to the intracranial vessels in a mechanical thrombectomy procedure. However, interruption of this extracorporeal blood circuit during the procedure may impose a high risk of catheter thromboembolism or generation of thrombus within the blood pump components, even with short periods of blood stasis. Thus, extracorporeal blood cooling may only be initiated after successful recanalization of the occluded cerebral artery in the postreperfusion phase as it was presented in the study of a swine model with focal ischemia due to transient MCA branch occlusion.2

With regard to the optimal target temperature for brain hypothermia in acute stroke treatment, Mattingly et al referred to an older study published in 1955 that described the reduction of metabolic demand in the hypoperfused brain, which decreased almost “linearly” with the reduction in temperature.4 However, this finding represents only one of the multiple proposed neuroprotective effects of therapeutic hypothermia in cerebral ischemia, including a reduction of detrimental neuroinflammatory responses, suppression of neurotransmitter release, attenuation of neuronal apoptosis, and dampening of free radical generation.5 Recent in vivo studies with ischemic models, clinical studies, and guidelines for patients with cardiac arrest put more emphasis on mild therapeutic hypothermia with target temperatures between 33°C and 35°C, which aim at a balance between the neuroprotective effects and the control of adverse events, for implementation in clinical practice.6,7 In our experimental study, we demonstrated that systemic temperatures followed local brain temperatures in selective intracarotid blood cooling with a relatively stable temperature gradient. The lower brain temperatures of <30° achieved within 15 minutes by extracorporeal blood cooling, which were described in the work of Mattingly et al, involve important issues in the management of patients with stroke, such as infection, shivering, and coagulation impairment8 due to high-dose heparinization. These issues have to be weighed against the potential benefits of an assumed stronger neuroprotection related to a lower metabolic demand.

We esteem the work of Mattingly et al, who have shown an exciting approach for selective brain hypothermia in acute stroke treatment. Applying 3 hours of early postreperfusion cooling, they could demonstrate, in a swine model, a marked reduction of infarct volume by 42% of transient MCA branch occlusion. Our approach aims at simultaneous neuroprotection in patients with acute large-artery occlusions (MCA M1 or terminal ICA) that undergo endovascular mechanical thrombectomy as a standard treatment. Thus, it should not interfere or delay the standard endovascular procedure and at the same time provide selective brain hypothermia with limited systemic effects and minimized influence on management of patients with stroke. Currently, both approaches may coexist until further validation in a clinical context in patients with acute stroke has been performed.


  1. Cattaneo G, Schumacher M, Maurer C, et al. Endovascular cooling catheter for selective brain hypothermia: an animal feasibility study of cooling performance. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 2015 Dec 24. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Mattingly TK, Denning LM, Siroen KL, et al. Catheter based selective hypothermia reduces stroke volume during focal cerebral ischemia in swine. J Neurointerv Surg 2015 Feb 12. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Pan J, Konstas AA, Bateman B, et al. Reperfusion injury following cerebral ischemia: pathophysiology, MR imaging, and potential therapies. Neuroradiology 2007;49:93–102
  4. Lougheed WM, Kahn DS. Circumvention of anoxia during arrest of cerebral circulation for intracranial surgery. J Neurosurg 1955;12:226–39
  5. Wu TC, Grotta JC. Hypothermia for acute ischaemic stroke. Lancet Neurol 2013;12:275–84
  6. van der Worp HB, Macleod MR, Kollmar R, et al. European Stroke Research Network for Hypothermia (EuroHYP). Therapeutic hypothermia for acute ischemic stroke: ready to start large randomized trials? J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 2010;30:1079–93
  7. Ding Y, Li J, Luan X, et al. Local saline infusion into ischemic territory induces regional brain cooling and neuroprotection in rats with transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Neurosurgery 2004;54:956–64; discussion 964–65
  8. Foerster K, D’Inka M, Beyersdorf F, et al. Prolonged cardiac arrest and resuscitation by extracorporeal life support: favourable outcome without preceding anticoagulation in an experimental setting. Perfusion 2013;28:520–28
Cooling Catheters for Selective Brain Hypothermia
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