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Interventions to reduce body temperature to 35 ⁰C to 37 ⁰C in adults and children with traumatic brain injury

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BACKGROUND: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability, with an estimated 5.5 million people experiencing severe TBI worldwide every year. Observational clinical studies of people with TBI suggest an association between raised body temperature and unfavourable outcome, although this relationship is inconsistent. Additionally, preclinical models suggest that reducing temperature to 35 °C to 37.5 °C improves biochemical and histopathological outcomes compared to reducing temperature to a lower threshold of 33 °C to 35 °C. It is unknown whether reducing body temperature to 35 °C to 37.5 °C in people admitted to hospital with TBI is beneficial, has no effect, or causes harm. This is an update of a review last published in 2014. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of pharmacological interventions or physical interventions given with the intention of reducing body temperature to 35 °C to 37.5 °C in adults and children admitted to hospital after TBI. SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, and PubMed on 28 November 2019. We searched clinical trials registers, grey literature and references lists of reviews, and we carried out forward citation searches of included studies. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with participants of any age admitted to hospital following TBI. We included interventions that aimed to reduce body temperature to 35 °C to 37.5 °C: these included pharmacological interventions (such as paracetamol, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or physical interventions (such as surface cooling devices, bedside fans, or cooled intravenous fluids). Eligible comparators were placebo or usual care. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently assessed studies for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed risks of bias. We assessed the certainty of the evidence with GRADE. MAIN RESULTS: We included one RCT with 41 participants. This study recruited adult participants admitted to two intensive care units in Australia, and evaluated a pharmacological intervention. Researchers gave participants 1 g paracetamol or a placebo intravenously at four-hourly intervals for 72 hours. We could not be certain whether intravenous paracetamol influenced mortality at 28 days (risk ratio 2.86, 95% confidence interval 0.32 to 25.24). We judged the evidence for this outcome to be very low certainty, meaning we have very little confidence in this effect estimate, and the true result may be substantially different to this effect. We downgraded the certainty for imprecision (because the evidence was from a single study with very few participants), and study limitations (because we noted a high risk of selective reporting bias). This study was otherwise at low risk of bias. The included study did not report the primary outcome for this review, which was the number of people with a poor outcome at the end of follow-up (defined as death or dependency, as measured on a scale such as the Glasgow Outcome Score), or any of our secondary outcomes, which included the number of people with further intracranial haemorrhage, extracranial haemorrhage, abnormal intracranial pressure, or pneumonia or other serious infections. The only other completed trial that we found was of a physical intervention that compared advanced fever control (using a surface cooling device) versus conventional fever control in 12 participants. The trial was published as an abstract only, with insufficient details to allow inclusion, so we have added this to the 'studies awaiting classification' section, pending further information from the study authors or publication of the full study report. We identified four ongoing studies that will contribute evidence to future updates of the review if they measure relevant outcomes and, in studies with a mixed population, report data separately for participants with TBI. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: One small study contributed very low-certainty evidence for mortality to this review. The uncertainty is largely driven by limited research into reduction of body temperature to 35 °C to 37.5 °C in people with TBI. Further research that evaluates pharmacological or physical interventions, or both, may increase certainty in this field. We propose that future updates of the review, and ongoing and future research in this field, incorporate outcomes that are important to the people receiving the interventions, including side effects of any pharmacological agent (e.g. nausea or vomiting), and discomfort caused by physical therapies.




Lewis, S. R., Baker, P. E., Andrews, P. J., Cheng, A., Deol, K., Hammond, N., & Saxena, M. (2020). Interventions to reduce body temperature to 35 0C to 37 0C in adults and children with traumatic brain injury. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 10, CD006811.

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