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UT Southwestern investigating hypothermic technique in treating pediatric head injuries
Date:10/3/2007

DALLAS Oct. 3, 2007 UT Southwestern Medical Center has been selected to take part in an $11.5 million multicenter clinical trial that is examining the effectiveness of induced hypothermia as a therapy for brain swelling in children who have suffered severe traumatic brain injuries.

The 12 centers that are participating in the trial are expected to enroll a total of 340 children up to age 16 in the five-year trial, which is being funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a component of the National Institutes of Health. Childrens Medical Center Dallas, which has a Level I pediatric trauma center, will serve as the local coordinating site. The study is being led by Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Pediatric patients who are eligible for the trial must have severe brain injury caused by blunt trauma. This excludes patients who have suffered injuries that penetrate the skull such as gunshot wounds.

Those patients selected to receive hypothermia therapy will be cooled to between 32 and 33 degrees Celsius (89 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit), using special cooling blankets and/or cooled saline given intravenously. In addition to normal emergency care, they will remain cooled for 48 hours while being closely monitored in the intensive care unit. Children will be tracked by researchers for one year to record outcomes, with a battery of tests being conducted at six and 12 months following the injury.

Trauma is the leading cause of death and disability in children, more than all other causes combined, said Dr. Pam Okada, associate professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and lead investigator of the Dallas trial. Previous studies have shown hypothermia is not only safe in children following severe traumatic brain injury, but may improve their chance of survival.

It had been thought that children had better outcomes than adults following traumatic brain injury, Dr. Okada said. In fact, it has been
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Contact: Erin Prather Stafford
erin.pratherstafford@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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