Is hypothermia in the victim of major trauma protective or harmful? A randomized, prospective study

Larry M. Gentilello, Gregory J. Jurkovich, Michelle S. Stark, S. Ahmad Hassantash, Grant E. O'Keefe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

278 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this randomized, prospective clinical trial was to determine whether hypothermia during resuscitation is protective or harmful to critically injured trauma patients. Summary Background Data: Hypothermia has both protective and harmful clinical effects. Retrospective studies show higher mortality in patients with hypothermia; however, hypothermia is more common in more severely injured patients, which makes it difficult to determine whether hypothermia contributes to mortality independently of injury severity. There are no randomized, prospective treatment studies to assess hypothermia's impact as an independent variable. Methods: Fifty-seven hypothermic (T ≤34.5 C), critically injured patients requiring a pulmonary artery catheter were randomized to a rapid rewarming protocol using continuous arteriovenous rewarming (CAVR) or to a standard rewarming (SR) control group. The primary outcome of interest was first 24- hour blood product and fluid resuscitation requirements. Other comparative analyses included coagulation assays, hemodynamic and oxygen transport measurements, length of stay, and mortality. Results: The two groups were well matched for demographic and injury severity characteristics. CAVR rewarmed significantly faster than did SR (p < 0.01), producing two groups with different amounts of hypothermia exposure. The patients who underwent CAVR required less fluid during resuscitation to the same hemodynamic goals (24,702 mL vs. 32,540 mL, p = 0.05) and were significantly more likely to rewarm (p = 0.002). Only 2 (7%) of 29 patients who underwent CAVR failed to warm to 36 C and both died, whereas 12 (43%) of 28 patients who underwent SR failed to reach 36 C, and all 12 died. Patients who underwent CAVR had significantly less early mortality (p = 0.047). Conclusion: Hypothermia increases fluid requirements and independently increases acute mortality after major trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-449
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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