Joost J L M Bierens, Johannes T A Knape, Harry P M M Gelissen
Current Opinion in Critical Care 2002, 8 (6): 578-86
Recent epidemiologic data have shown that the burden of drowning is much greater than expected. Prevention and timely rescue are the most effective means of reducing the number of persons at risk. Early bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation is the most important factor for survival after submersion. Cerebral damage is a serious threat when the hypoxic period is too long. In most situations, low body temperature is an indication of the severity of the drowning incident. Sometimes hypothermia that occurs during the submersion period can be brain protective. There is also new evidence to support the strategy of inducing mild hypothermia for a period of 12 to 24 hours in comatose drowning victims. In immersed patients, hypothermia should be treated. The most appropriate technique will depend on the available means in the hospital and the condition of the patient. Treatment of pulmonary complications depends on the lung injury that occurred during aspiration and the bacteria involved in aspiration. Understanding the pathophysiology of drowning may help us to understand lung injuries and ischemic brain injuries.

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