[Accidental hypothermia—a challenge for rescue service and intensive care]

A Francke, J Köpcke
Anaesthesiologie und Reanimation 2002, 27 (1): 9-15
Accidental hypothermia is a rare clinical picture with different causes. Specific features are shown by patients who have accidents in water, due to rapid cooling. The SARRRAH project (Search and Rescue, Resuscitation and Rewarming in Accidental Hypothermia) was launched to secure fast and professional medical care right up to rewarming by extracorporal circulation. The University of Rostock takes part in this project. Based on the course of accidental hypothermia in fifteen patients, the authors report on the treatment of this life-threatening situation with special regard to the use of extracorporal circulation and present their first results. The core temperature of these patients lay between 16.0 and 34.0 degrees C. Eight of the patients had cardiac arrest at the scene of the accident. Seven of the patients with cardiac arrest were treated with extracorporal circulation in addition to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which was started pre-clinically and continued in hospital. In one patient, extracorporal circulation was used at an initial temperature of 25.4 degrees C without previous cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Six of these fifteen patients with accidental hypothermia died. Five of the non-survivors belonged to the group of eight patients who were rewarmed by extracorporal circulation. With one exception, they also had the lowest core temperatures. Only a homogeneous and up-to-date documentation will allow further conclusions to be made for improving the concept of therapy.


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