A review of the use of early hypothermia in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries.
OBJECT The goal of this study was to evaluate the therapeutic window for hypothermia treatment following experimental brain injury by measuring edema formation and functional outcome. METHODS Traumatic brain injury (TBI) was produced in anesthetized rats by using cortical impact injury. Edema was measured in the ipsilateral and contralateral hemispheres by subtracting dry weight from wet weight, and neurological function was assessed using a battery of behavioral tests 24 hours after TBI. In injured rats, it was found that brain water levels were elevated at I hour postinjury, compared with those in sham-injured control animals, and that edema peaked at 24 hours and remained elevated for 4 days. Hypothermia (3 hours at 30 degrees C) induced either immediately after TBI or 60 minutes after TBI significantly reduced early neurological deficits. Delay of treatment by 90 or 120 minutes postinjury did not result in this neurological protection. Immediate administration of hypothermia also significantly decreased the peak magnitude of edema at 24 hours and 48 hours postinjury, compared with that in normothermic injured control animals. When delayed by 90 minutes, hypothermia did not affect the pattern of edema formation. CONCLUSIONS When hypothermia was administered immediately or 60 minutes after TBI, injured rats showed an improvement in functional outcome and a decrease in edema. Delayed hypothermia treatment had no effect on functional outcome or on edema.