Local head and neck cooling leads to hypothermia in healthy volunteers

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2011;32(3):207-10. doi: 10.1159/000329376. Epub 2011 Aug 4.


Background: Prehospital cooling of acute stroke patients would be ideal when associated with minor or no side effects. Therefore, we evaluated a cooling cap for the surface of head and cervical regions in awake volunteers.

Methods: 10 healthy volunteers were treated by external cooling for 190 min using a gel-based cooling device. Vital signs, rectal temperature, tympanic temperature, the extent of shivering and individual perception of frostiness and discomfort were measured.

Results: All participants (median age 35 years) successfully completed the treatment and experienced only mild to moderate discomfort. No serious adverse events and no shivering were noticed. There was a significant drop in the tympanic temperature to 34.68°C (difference from baseline: 1.7°C, 95% CI: 0.61-2.7°C, p = 0.001), in the rectal temperature to 36.65°C (difference from baseline: 0.65°C, 95% CI: 0.06-1.2°C, p = 0.019) and in the heart rate (difference from baseline: 15 beats/min, 95% CI: 0.63-30 beats/min, p = 0.035).

Conclusion: Treatment with the cooling device was well tolerated by all participants. The technique had measurable effects on core body temperature (rectal) and tympanic temperature (may reflect temperature at the external ear and skin rather than intracranial). It can be considered as a simple therapeutic approach to patients with suspected stroke in the prehospital setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Head
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced / adverse effects
  • Hypothermia, Induced / instrumentation*
  • Male
  • Neck
  • Time Factors