Induced hypothermia in critical care medicine: a review

Crit Care Med. 2003 Jul;31(7):2041-51. doi: 10.1097/01.CCM.0000069731.18472.61.


Background: Clinical trials of induced hypothermia have suggested that this treatment may be beneficial in selected patients with neurologic injury.

Objectives: To review the topic of induced hypothermia as a treatment of patients with neurologic and other disorders.

Design: Review article.

Interventions: None.

Main results: Improved outcome was demonstrated in two prospective, randomized, controlled trials in which induced hypothermia (33 degrees C for 12-24 hrs) was used in patients with anoxic brain injury following resuscitation from prehospital cardiac arrest. In addition, prospective, randomized, controlled trials have been conducted in patients with severe head injury, with variable results. There also have been preliminary clinical studies of induced hypothermia in patients with severe stroke, newborn hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, neurologic infection, and hepatic encephalopathy, with promising results. Finally, animal models have suggested that hypothermia that is induced rapidly following traumatic cardiac arrest provides significant neurologic protection and improved survival.

Conclusions: Induced hypothermia has a role in selected patients in the intensive care unit. Critical care physicians should be familiar with the physiologic effects, current indications, techniques, and complications of induced hyperthermia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / prevention & control
  • Brain Diseases / therapy*
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced / methods*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome