Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that induced hypothermia therapy lessens the chances of recovery for head injury patients.
Before this study was conducted,
very few clinical trials had been run to evaluate the possible effects of induced hypothermia on patients' long-term recovery.
Therefore, the University of Edinburgh tracked the outcomes of nearly 400 traumatic brain injury cases in patients from 18 different countries. About half of those patients received standard procedures, while the other half were treated with induced hypothermia.
And while the study found that induced hypothermia -- which is practiced in Europe and North America -- did reduce the build-up of pressure in the skull, after six months, patients who received the treatment were likely to show less improvement and more adverse effects than those who had received standard care.
In fact, only about a quarter of patients treated with induced hypothermia showed favorable outcomes, while a third of the standard treatment patients showed improvement.
"This well-conducted trial has shown that hypothermia can successfully reduce brain pressure following trauma, but after 6 months functional recovery was significantly worse than standard care alone,"
Professor Peter Andrews, head of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, told Patient Daily.
Worldwide, about 2 million people suffer from traumatic brain injuries annually. Most of these are due to auto accidents or falls. Of those, 50,000 to 80,000 patients will die or suffer long-term disability.
The Edinburgh University study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research's Health Technology Assessment Program. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers from the study will present their findings at the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine Annual Congress in Berlin, Germany and at the Neurocritical Care Society annual meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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