Mild hypothermia therapy for patients with severe brain injury

Roman Gal, Ivan Cundrle, Iveta Zimova, Martin Smrcka
Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery 2002, 104 (4): 318-21
The authors present a group of patients with severe head injuries in which deliberate mild hypothermia was carried out together with the standard treatment protocol according to the European Brain Injury Consortium. Thirty patients with severe head injuries with Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score of 3-8 were enrolled into the study. The subjects were divided into two groups. The average age in the hypothermic group of 15 patients was 35 years. The average GCS was 4.5 at the site of accident. Eight patients (53%) sustained associated severe injuries of other organs. The average age of the 15 patients in the normothermic control group was 39 years with an average GCS of 4.3. All the patients in the normothermic group and 11 patients in the hypothermic group underwent neurosurgery, five of them also decompressive craniotomy. Artificial ventilation with continuous monitoring of intracranial pressure (ICP), cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), arterial blood pressure, jugular bulb oximetry and urinary bladder temperature were instituted in the ICU. Cooling to a core temperature of 34 degrees C in the hypothermic group was achieved by forced air cooling in combination with circulating-water mattress cooling (Blanketrol II, Cincinnati Sub-Zero) and maintained for 72 h. The difference in the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) between the hypothermic and normothermic groups of patients after 6 months was not statistically significant (P value 0.0843). In the hypothermic group, however, good neurological outcome (GOS 4 and 5) was reached in 13 patients (87%), which represents a 40% increase compared with the normothermic control group in which good neurological outcome was reached in 7 patients (47%). Mean normothermia ICP value of 18+/-2 mmHg was significantly (P value 0.0007) reduced during mild hypothermia therapy to 12+/-2 mmHg. Mean normothermia CPP value of 72+/-3 mmHg significantly increased (P value 0.0007) during this time to 80+/-4 mmHg with unchanged systolic arterial pressure (P value 0.9013). There were no cardiac or coagulopathy-related complications. Our results showed that mild therapeutic hypothermia could be useful in improving the outcome and neurological recovery in patients with severe head injuries.

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