When the heart is stopped and restarted, the patient's life may be saved, but the brain often is damaged permanently. Therapeutic hypothermia, a treatment in which the patients body temperature is lowered and maintained several degrees below normal for a period of time, has been shown to mitigate these harmful effects and improve survival in adults. Now, in the first large-scale multicenter study of its kind, physician-scientists are evaluating the effectiveness of the technique in infants and children.
"A tragedy no matter how it happens, cardiac arrest can occur in children either as a complication from a serious medical condition or due to an accident or sudden illness. While arrest in children is rare, currently no other therapies have been shown to improve their chances of recovering," points out Charles Schleien, professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York. "In this study, we are aiming to see whether therapeutic hypothermia can give these children a better chance at survival and long-term quality of life."
About 16,000 children suffer cardiac arrest...