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In patients with head injury undergoing rapid sequence intubation, does pretreatment with intravenous lignocaine/lidocaine lead to an improved neurological outcome? A review of the literature.

It is well known that laryngeal instrumentation and endotracheal intubation is associated with a marked, transient rise in intracranial pressure (ICP). Patients with head injury requiring endotracheal intubation are considered particularly at risk from this transient rise in ICP as it reduces cerebral perfusion and thus may increase secondary brain injury. The favoured method for securing a definitive airway in this patient group is by rapid sequence intubation (RSI). In the United States the Emergency Airway Course teaches emergency physicians to routinely administer intravenous lidocaine as a pre treatment for RSI in this patient group in an attempt to attenuate this rise in ICP. A literature search was carried out to identify studies in which intravenous lidocaine was used as a pretreatment for RSI in major head injury. Any link to an improved neurological outcome was also sought. Papers identified were appraised in the manner recommended by the evidence based medicine group to ensure validity. There were no studies identified that answered our question directly and, furthermore, it is our belief that no such study, at present, exists in the literature. Six valid papers were found, which individually contained elements of the question posed and these are presented in a narrative and graphic form. There is currently no evidence to support the use of intravenous lidocaine as a pretreatment for RSI in patients with head injury and its use should only occur in clinical trials.

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