Enhanced upper respiratory tract airflow and head fanning reduce brain temperature in brain-injured, mechanically ventilated patients: a randomized, crossover, factorial trial

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Abstract

Background. Heat loss from the upper airways and through the skull are physiological mechanisms of brain cooling which have not been fully explored clinically.

Methods. This randomized, crossover, factorial trial in 12 brain-injured, orally intubated patients investigated the effect of enhanced nasal airflow (high flow unhumidified air with 20 p.p.m. nitric oxide gas) and bilateral head fanning on frontal lobe brain temperature and selective brain cooling. After a 30 min baseline, each patient received the four possible combinations of the interventions-airflow, fanning, both together, no intervention-in randomized order. Each combination was delivered for 30 min and followed by a 30 min washout, the last 5 min of which provided the baseline for the next intervention.

Results. The difference in mean brain temperature over the last 5 min of the preceding washout minus the mean over the last 5 min of intervention, was 0.15 degrees C with nasal airflow (P=0.001, 95% CI 0.06-0.23 degrees C) and 0.26 degrees C with head fanning (P <0.001, 95% CI 0.17-0.34 degrees C). The estimate of the combined effect of airflow and fanning on brain temperature was 0.41 degrees C. Selective brain cooling did not occur.

Conclusion. Physiologically, this study demonstrates that heat loss through the upper airways and through the skull can reduce parenchymal brain temperature in brain-injured humans and the onset of temperature reduction is rapid. Clinically, in ischaemic stroke, a temperature decrease of 0.27 degrees C may reduce the relative risk of poor outcome by 10-20%. Head fanning may have the potential to achieve a temperature decrease of this order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Volume98
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007

Keywords

  • brain, cooling
  • brain, injury
  • brain, temperature
  • stroke
  • BODY-TEMPERATURE
  • ACUTE STROKE
  • HYPERTHERMIA
  • NASAL
  • HUMANS

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