Induced Hypothermia for Trauma: Current Research and Practice

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Induction of hypothermia with the goal of providing therapeutic benefit has been accepted for use in the clinical setting of adult cardiac arrest and neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). However, its potential as a treatment in trauma is not as well defined. This review discusses potential benefits and complications of induced hypothermia (IH) with emphasis on the current state of knowledge and practice in various types of trauma. There is excellent preclinical research showing that in cases of penetrating trauma with cardiac arrest, inducing hypothermia to 10°C using cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) could possibly save those otherwise likely to die without causing neurologic sequelae. A human trial of this intervention is about to get underway. Preclinical studies suggest that inducing hypothermia may be useful to delay cardiac arrest in penetrating trauma victims who are hypotensive. There is potential for IH to be used in cases of blunt trauma, but it has not been well studied. In the case of traumatic brain injury (TBI), clinical trials have shown conflicting results, despite almost uniform efficacy seen in preclinical experiments. Major studies are analyzed and ways to standardize its use and optimize future clinical trials are discussed. More preclinical and clinical research is needed to better define whether there could be a role for IH in the case of spinal cord injuries.

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