Hypothermia in Trauma Victims: An Ominous Predictor of Survival

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Abstract

Hypothermia in trauma patients is generally considered an ominous sign, although the actual temperature at which hypothermia affects survival is ill defined. In this study, the impact of body core hypothermia on outcome in 71 adult trauma patients with Injury Severity Scores (ISS) ≥25 was analyzed. Forty-two per cent of the patients had a core temperature (Tc) below 34°C, 23% below 33°C, and 13% below 32°C. The mortality of hypothermia patients was consistently greater than those who remained warm, regardless of index core temperature. Mortality if Tc < 34°C = 40%, < 33°C = 69%, < 32°C = 100%, whereas mortality if Tc ≥ 34°C = 7%, ≥ 33°C = 7%, and ≥ 32°C = 10%. Mortality and the incidence of hypothermia increased with higher ISS, massive fluid resuscitation, and the presence of shock. Within each subgroup (i.e., greater ISS, massive fluid administration, shock) the mortality of hypothermic patients was significantly higher than those who remained warm. No patient whose core temperature fell below 32°C survived.

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