A best evidence topic in cardiothoracic surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was whether unilateral antegrade cerebral perfusion is equivalent to bilateral cerebral plegia for cerebral protection during aortic arch surgery. Altogether 233 papers were found using the reported search, of which 17 presented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The author, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes, results, and study weaknesses of these papers are tabulated. These papers documented antegrade selective cerebral perfusion in a total of 3548 patients: bilateral cerebral perfusion in 2949 patients and unilateral perfusion in 599 patients. Both methods of cerebral perfusion resulted in neurological injury rates of <5%, but the period of antegrade cerebral perfusion allowed by bilateral perfusion was significantly higher. While unilateral perfusion allowed around 30-50 min, bilateral perfusion allowed 86 to over 164 min of ASCP with an acceptably low CVA rate. Therefore, we conclude that while both methods are acceptable, once the ASCP time is expected to rise over 40-50 min, bilateral cerebral perfusion is the technique that is best documented to be safe.
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