A meta-analysis of the effects of therapeutic hypothermia in adult patients with traumatic brain injury

Hanbing Chen, Fei Wu, Penglei Yang, Jun Shao, Qihong Chen, Ruiqiang Zheng
Critical Care: the Official Journal of the Critical Care Forum 2019 December 5, 23 (1): 396

PURPOSE: Therapeutic hypothermia management remains controversial in patients with traumatic brain injury. We conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the risks and benefits of therapeutic hypothermia management in patients with traumatic brain injury.

METHODS: We searched the Web of Science, PubMed, Embase, Cochrane (Central) and Clinical Trials databases from inception to January 17, 2019. Eligible studies were randomised controlled trials that investigated therapeutic hypothermia management versus normothermia management in patients with traumatic brain injury. We collected the individual data of the patients from each included study. Meta-analyses were performed for 6-month mortality, unfavourable functional outcome and pneumonia morbidity. The risk of bias was evaluated using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool.

RESULTS: Twenty-three trials involving a total of 2796 patients were included. The randomised controlled trials with a high quality show significantly more mortality in the therapeutic hypothermia group [risk ratio (RR) 1.26, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04 to 1.53, p = 0.02]. Lower mortality in the therapeutic hypothermia group occurred when therapeutic hypothermia was received within 24 h (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.96, p = 0.01), when hypothermia was received for treatment (RR 0.66, 95% CI 0.49 to 0.88, p = 0.006) or when hypothermia was combined with post-craniectomy measures (RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.48 to 1.00, p = 0.05). The risk of unfavourable functional outcome following therapeutic hypothermia management appeared to be significantly reduced (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.91, p = 0.001). The meta-analysis suggested that there was a significant increase in the risk of pneumonia with therapeutic hypothermia management (RR 1.48, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.97, p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS: Our meta-analysis demonstrated that therapeutic hypothermia did not reduce but might increase the mortality rate of patients with traumatic brain injury in some high-quality studies. However, traumatic brain injury patients with elevated intracranial hypertension could benefit from hypothermia in therapeutic management instead of prophylaxis when initiated within 24 h.

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