What is the role of therapeutic hypothermia in the treatment of drowning patients?

Updated: Jun 19, 2019
  • Author: G Patricia Cantwell, MD, FCCM; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Hypothermia remains potentially beneficial and its utility has been extrapolated from adults experiencing witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest [91, 92] and asphyxiated newborns. [96, 97] Aggressive resuscitation of drowning in the 1970s was notable for moderate dehydration, controlled hyperventilation, deep hypothermia (30ºC), barbiturate coma, corticosteroids, and continuous neuromuscular blockade. [98] Retrospective reviews determined a preponderance of survivors who remained in a persistent vegetative state [99, 100] and had increased infectious complications. [100] Current recommendations propose maintaining core temperature 32-34ºC for 12-72 hours. [51] This mode of therapy may impede the neurologic examination because of the potential need for neuromuscular blockage to blunt shivering.

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