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Therapeutic hypothermia: past, present, and future.

Chest 2008 May
Cardiac arrest causes devastating neurologic morbidity and mortality. The preservation of the brain function is the final goal of resuscitation. Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) has been considered as an effective method for reducing ischemic injury of the brain. The therapeutic use of hypothermia has been utilized for millennia, and over the last 50 years has been routinely employed in the operating room. TH gained recognition in the past 6 years as a neuroprotective agent in victims of cardiac arrest after two large, randomized, prospective clinical trials demonstrated its benefits in the postresuscitation setting. Extensive research has been done at the cellular and molecular levels and in animal models. There are a number of proposed applications of TH, including traumatic brain injury, acute encephalitis, stroke, neonatal hypoxemia, and near-drowning, among others. Several devices are being designed with the purpose of decreasing temperature at a fast and steady rate, and trying to avoid potential complications. This article reviews the historical development of TH, and its current indications, methods of induction, and potential future.

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