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Therapeutic hypothermia is a potential treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Previous laboratory  research suggested it has therapeutic benefit, however subsequent clinical studies and systematic reviews have not corroborated this.

In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers investigated the effect of therapeutic hypothermia in adult patients admitted to ICU with TBI. They identified randomized controlled trials that involved therapeutic hypothermia as a treatment of adult patients with TBI (defined as any traumatic, acute closed head injury). Quality of the include studies was assessed and data was extracted on risk of death, unfavorable outcome and new pneumonia. The 20 eligible studies were generally of low quality, but suggested some benefit of therapeutic hypothermia as a treatment for TBI.

There is some evidence that therapeutic hypothermia results in reduced rates of death and long-term disability, but a little evidence that such patients are at increased risk of pneumonia. More research is needed however due to the low quality of available evidence.





Written by Stephanie Harriman, Deputy Medical Editor for BioMed Central.

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A systematic review of therapeutic hypothermia for adult patients following traumatic brain injury

Crossley S, Reid J, McLatchie R, Hayton J, Clark C, MacDougall M and Andrews PJD

Critical Care 2014, 18:R75

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