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Cooling not effective for injured brains

Cooling the brain after a traumatic brain injury may not help improve neurological outcomes and might even increase mortality.

Cooling not effective for injured brains

Cooling the brain after a traumatic brain injury may not help improve neurological outcomes and might even increase mortality. Hypothermia therapy involves lowering the body temperature below 35.5 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), in children with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is intended to treat intracranial hypertension. To investigate the effect of hypothermia therapy on the neurological outcome, Canadian researchers studied the case histories of 225 children who had traumatic brain injuries and received 24 hours of cooling, to 32 degrees Celsius. All the children were enrolled within eight hours of their injury and, after cooling; we re-warmed an average of 0.5 degree Celsius every two hours. No difference was found between those who were cooled and those who received standard treatment. Additionally, 23 children from those who received Hypothermia therapy died. After 6 months, 31% of the patients in the hypothermia group, as compared with 22% of the patients who received standard therapy had an unfavourable outcome. The findings reveal increased mortality and no neurological benefits in children who received hypothermia therapy. The researchers concluded that in children with severe traumatic brain injury, hypothermia therapy that is initiated within 8 hours after injury and continued for 24 hours does not improve the neurological outcome and may increase mortality.
New England Journal of Medicine
June 2008
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