JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Therapeutic hypothermia for out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation survivors: a feasibility study comparing time to achieve target core temperature using conventional conductive cooling versus combined conductive plus pericranial convective cooling.

OBJECTIVE: Mild to moderate therapeutic hypothermia (TH) has been shown to improve survival and neurologic outcome, as well as to reduce healthcare costs in patients resuscitated from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) with ventricular fibrillation. Accordingly, the American Heart Association has categorized this as a Class IB intervention. The therapeutic window for initiating TH is narrow, and thus, achieving target temperature expeditiously is of paramount importance to improve postresuscitative neurologic outcome. The present investigation is a feasibility study designed to assess the practicality and efficacy of including pericranial cooling in our postresuscitative TH protocol. Specifically, we compared time required to achieve target temperature (33°C) using our present standard of TH care (ie, conductive body cooling, conventional TH group) versus combined conductive body cooling plus convective (forced-air) head and neck cooling (combined TH group).

DESIGN: Adult patients who experienced OHCA were included in the study provided TH could be initiated within 4 hours of resuscitation from ventricular fibrillation. Patients enrolled in both groups were cooled using the servo-controlled Arctic Sun conductive cooling system (Medivance, Inc, Louisville, CO). However, patients enrolled in the combined TH group also received forced-air pericranial cooling with an ambient temperature of approximately 13°C. In all cases, the target core (bladder) temperature was 33°C. The primary endpoint (ie, time required to achieve a core temperature of 33°C) was analyzed as a continuous variable and compared between groups using the rank sum test, whereas categorical variables were compared between groups using the chi-square test.

SETTING: Cardiac intensive care unit at a major tertiary care teaching center in Rochester, MN.

PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients who experienced OHCA were included in the study.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients enrolled in both groups were cooled using the servo-controlled Arctic Sun conductive cooling system (Medivance, Inc, Louisville, CO). However, patients enrolled in the combined TH group also received forced-air pericranial cooling with an ambient temperature of approximately 13°C.

MEASUREMENTS: Only patients admitted after January 1, 2008, were included in the analysis (28 combined TH group patients v 55 conventional TH group patients). Demographic data were similar between groups. When compared with the conventional TH group, time to achieve 33°C was significantly shorter in the combined TH group: 207 minutes (173 and 286 min) [median (25th, 75th percentile)] v 181 minutes (63 and 247 min). The magnitude and frequency of hypothermia-mediated physiologic perturbations (eg, hypokalemia) were similar for both groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Both TH cooling paradigms effectively achieved 33°C; however, the combined TH technique significantly decreased the time required to achieve the target temperature. Although not evaluated in this study, such an effect may further improve postresuscitative neurologic outcomes beyond that previously described using conventional TH. Although a positive result (ie, abbreviated time taken to achieve target temperature) was observed, we maintain guarded enthusiasm for this evolving adjunctive technique until corroborative outcome-based evidence is available.

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