Background: On the basis of mixed results from previous trials, we assessed whether therapeutic hypothermia for 48-72 h with slow rewarming improved mortality in children after brain injury.
Methods: In this phase 3, multicenter, multinational, randomised controlled trial, we included patients with severe traumatic brain injury who were younger than 18 years and could be enrolled within 6 h of injury. We used a computer-generated randomisation sequence to randomly allocate patients (1:1; stratified by site and age [<6 years, 6-15 years, 16-17 years]) to either hypothermia (rapidly cooled to 32-33°C for 48-72 h, then rewarmed by 0·5-1·0°C every 12-24 h) or normothermia (maintained at 36·5-37·5°C). The primary outcome was mortality at 3 months, assessed by intention-to-treat analysis; secondary outcomes were global function at 3 months after injury using the Glasgow outcome scale (GOS) and the GOS-extended pediatrics, and the occurrence of serious adverse events. Investigators assessing outcomes were masked to treatment. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00222742.
Findings: The study was terminated early for futility after an interim data analysis on data for 77 patients (enrolled between Nov 1, 2007, and Feb 28, 2011): 39 in the hypothermia group and 38 in the normothermia group. We detected no between-group difference in mortality 3 months after injury (6 [15%] of 39 patients in the hypothermia group vs two [5%] of 38 patients in the normothermia group; p=0·15). Poor outcomes did not differ between groups (in the hypothermia group, 16 [42%] patients had a poor outcome by GOS and 18 [47%] had a poor outcome by GOS-extended paediatrics; in the normothermia group, 16 [42%] patients had a poor outcome by GOS and 19 [51%] of 37 patients had a poor outcome by GOS-extended paediatrics). We recorded no between-group differences in the occurrence of adverse events or serious adverse events.
Interpretation: Hypothermia for 48 h with slow rewarming does not reduce mortality of improve global functional outcome after paediatric severe traumatic brain injury.
Funding: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institutes of Health.
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