Author(s): Marion DW, Obrist WD, Carlier PM, Penrod LE, Darby JM
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Abstract Animal research suggests that moderate therapeutic hypothermia may improve outcome after a severe head injury, but its efficacy has not been established in humans. The authors randomly assigned 40 consecutively treated patients with a severe closed head injury (Glasgow Coma Scale score 3 to 7) to either a hypothermia or a normothermia group. Using cooling blankets and cold saline gastric lavage, patients in the hypothermia group were cooled to 32 degrees to 33 degrees C (brain temperature) within a mean of 10 hours after injury, maintained at that temperature for 24 hours, and rewarmed to 37 degrees to 38 degrees C over 12 hours. Patients in the normothermia group were maintained at 37 degrees to 38 degrees C during this time. Deep-brain temperatures were monitored directly and used for all temperature determinations. Intracranial pressure (ICP), cerebral blood flow (CBF), and cerebral metabolic rate for oxygen (CMRO2) were measured serially for all patients. Hypothermia significantly reduced ICP (40\%) and CBF (26\%) during the cooling period, and neither parameter showed a significant rebound increase after patients were rewarmed. Compared to the normothermia group, the mean CMRO2 in the hypothermia group was lower during cooling and higher 5 days after injury. Three months after injury, 12 of the 20 patients in the hypothermia group had moderate, mild, or no disabilities; eight of the 20 patients in the normothermia group had improved to the same degree. Both groups had a similar incidence of systemic complications, including cardiac arrhythmias, coagulopathies, and pulmonary complications. It is concluded that therapeutic moderate hypothermia is safe and has sustained favorable effects on acute derangements of cerebral physiology and metabolism caused by severe closed head injury. The trend toward better outcome with hypothermia may indicate that its beneficial physiological and metabolic effects limit secondary brain injury.
This article was published in J Neurosurg
and referenced in Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research