The New York Times recently spotlighted a clinical trial, led by Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) Council Member Samuel A. Tisherman, MD, FCCM, that will test an innovative hypothermia procedure on dying trauma patients.
As part of the trial, doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will drain trauma patients’ blood and replace it with a cold saline solution, inducing hypothermia and slowing metabolism in an effort to buy valuable time to repair the victims’ wounds.
Doctors will be performing the procedure only on patients who arrive at the emergency room with “catastrophic penetrating trauma” and who have lost so much blood that they have gone into cardiac arrest, according to the article. At normal body temperatures, surgeons usually must restore blood flow within five minutes to avoid brain damage.
In these situations, less than one in 10 survive, according to Tisherman. Improving those odds for patients is the impetus behind the trial.