Prehospital hypertonic saline resuscitation of patients with hypotension and severe traumatic brain injury: a randomized controlled trial

JAMA. 2004 Mar 17;291(11):1350-7. doi: 10.1001/jama.291.11.1350.


Context: Prehospital hypertonic saline (HTS) resuscitation of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) may increase survival but whether HTS improves neurological outcomes is unknown.

Objective: To determine whether prehospital resuscitation with intravenous HTS improves long-term neurological outcome in patients with severe TBI compared with resuscitation with conventional fluids.

Design, setting, and patients: Double-blind, randomized controlled trial of 229 patients with TBI who were comatose (Glasgow Coma Scale score, <9) and hypotensive (systolic blood pressure, <100 mm Hg). The patients were enrolled between December 14, 1998, and April 9, 2002, in Melbourne, Australia.

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive a rapid intravenous infusion of either 250 mL of 7.5% saline (n = 114) or 250 mL of Ringer's lactate solution (n = 115; controls) in addition to conventional intravenous fluid and resuscitation protocols administered by paramedics. Treatment allocation was concealed.

Main outcome measure: Neurological function at 6 months, measured by the extended Glasgow Outcome Score (GOSE).

Results: Primary outcomes were obtained in 226 (99%) of 229 patients enrolled. Baseline characteristics of the groups were equivalent. At hospital admission, the mean serum sodium level was 149 mEq/L for HTS patients vs 141 mEq/L for controls (P<.001). The proportion of patients surviving to hospital discharge was similar in both groups (n = 63 [55%] for HTS group and n = 57 [50%] for controls; P =.32); at 6 months, survival rates were n = 62 (55%) in the HTS group and n = 53 (47%) in the control group (P =.23). At 6 months, the median (interquartile range) GOSE was 5 (3-6) in the HTS group vs 5 (5-6) in the control group (P =.45). There was no significant difference between the groups in favorable outcomes (moderate disability and good outcome survivors [GOSE of 5-8]) (risk ratio, 0.99; 95% confidence interval, 0.76-1.30; P =.96) or in any other measure of postinjury neurological function.

Conclusion: In this study, patients with hypotension and severe TBI who received prehospital resuscitation with HTS had almost identical neurological function 6 months after injury as patients who received conventional fluid.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale
  • Humans
  • Hypotension / etiology
  • Hypotension / therapy*
  • Isotonic Solutions / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Resuscitation*
  • Ringer's Lactate
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Isotonic Solutions
  • Ringer's Lactate
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic