Importance: Fluid therapy is an important component of care for patients with traumatic brain injury, but whether it modulates clinical outcomes remains unclear.
Objective: To determine whether continuous infusion of hypertonic saline solution improves neurological outcome at 6 months in patients with traumatic brain injury.
Design, setting, and participants: Multicenter randomized clinical trial conducted in 9 intensive care units in France, including 370 patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury who were recruited from October 2017 to August 2019. Follow-up was completed in February 2020.
Interventions: Adult patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury were randomly assigned to receive continuous infusion of 20% hypertonic saline solution plus standard care (n = 185) or standard care alone (controls; n = 185). The 20% hypertonic saline solution was administered for 48 hours or longer if patients remained at risk of intracranial hypertension.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS-E) score (range, 1-8, with lower scores indicating worse functional outcome) at 6 months, obtained centrally by blinded assessors and analyzed with ordinal logistic regression adjusted for prespecified prognostic factors (with a common odds ratio [OR] >1.0 favoring intervention). There were 12 secondary outcomes measured at multiple time points, including development of intracranial hypertension and 6-month mortality.
Results: Among 370 patients who were randomized (median age, 44 [interquartile range, 27-59] years; 77 [20.2%] women), 359 (97%) completed the trial. The adjusted common OR for the GOS-E score at 6 months was 1.02 (95% CI, 0.71-1.47; P = .92). Of the 12 secondary outcomes, 10 were not significantly different. Intracranial hypertension developed in 62 (33.7%) patients in the intervention group and 66 (36.3%) patients in the control group (absolute difference, -2.6% [95% CI, -12.3% to 7.2%]; OR, 0.80 [95% CI, 0.51-1.26]). There was no significant difference in 6-month mortality (29 [15.9%] in the intervention group vs 37 [20.8%] in the control group; absolute difference, -4.9% [95% CI, -12.8% to 3.1%]; hazard ratio, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.48-1.28]).
Conclusions and relevance: Among patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, treatment with continuous infusion of 20% hypertonic saline compared with standard care did not result in a significantly better neurological status at 6 months. However, confidence intervals for the findings were wide, and the study may have had limited power to detect a clinically important difference.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03143751.