Dying of cold: Hypothermia in trauma victims

July 30, 2012, BioMed Central

Hypothermia in trauma victims is a serious complication and is associated with an increased risk of dying. A new study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Critical Care has found that the key risk factor was severity of injury. However, environmental conditions and medical care, such as the temperature of the ambulance or temperature of any fluids administered intravenously, also increased risk.

A multicentre study, carried out by the of eight hospitals across France, looked at the injuries, care and outcomes for all adult trauma victims, over a three year period, who received pre-hospital care and were transported to hospital in an ambulance. Body temperature was continuously measured using a infrared tympanic thermometer and hypothermia was defined as below 35C.

The study found that 14% of patients had hypothermia on arrival at the hospital. Dr Frédéric Lapostolle from SAMU 93 - Unité recherche-enseignement-qualité, Hôpital Avicenne, who led this study, explained, "As expected the severity of hypothermia was linked to the severity of injury. Blood loss and spine or head injury impair body temperature regulation and in our study we found that head injury, and intubation to aid breathing, were independently associated with hypothermia."

While external air and ground temperatures seemed to have little effect on risk of hypothermia, the study found that infusion fluid temperature and the temperature inside the ambulances were both significant .

Dr Lapostolle continued, "The temperature of infused fluid for 75% of our patients was below 21C and usually at ambient air temperature. We suggest that, to reduce the incidence of , the temperature of infusion fluids need to be controlled, and that a small a volume as possible is used. Temperature of infusion fluids can be easily and rapidly measured in pre-hospital settings. We also recommend that ambulances should be heated and that as much as possible the patient should remain clothed, because attempting to warm the patients did not compensate for the effect of them being undressed even if it can make examination more difficult."

Explore further: New findings on therapeutic hypothermia following cardiac arrest in children

More information: Risk factors for onset of hypothermia in trauma victims: The HypoTraum study Frederic Lapostolle, Jean Luc Sebbah, James Couvreur, Francois X Koch, Dominique Savary, Karim Tazarourte, Gerald Egman, Lynda Mzabi, Michel Galinski and Frederic Adnet, Critical Care (in press)

Related Stories

New findings on therapeutic hypothermia following cardiac arrest in children

July 29, 2011
New Rochelle, NY, July 29, 2011–Intravenous delivery of cold fluids to reduce body temperature quickly after a heart attack and improve neurologic outcomes may not be as effective in children as it is in adults, according ...

Hypothermia proven to improve survival and outcomes following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

April 6, 2011
The successful use and evaluation of therapeutic hypothermia to improve survival and reduce the risk of neurological consequences following an out-of-hospital heart attack are explored in the premier issue of Therapeutic ...

Recommended for you

Teens get more sleep with later school start time, researchers find

December 12, 2018
When Seattle Public Schools announced that it would reorganize school start times across the district for the fall of 2016, the massive undertaking took more than a year to deploy. Elementary schools started earlier, while ...

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds

December 12, 2018
A new multi-country study finds that large, high-calorie portion sizes in fast food and full service restaurants is not a problem unique to the United States. An international team of researchers found that 94 percent of ...

Receiving genetic information can change risk

December 11, 2018
Millions of people in the United States alone have submitted their DNA for analysis and received information that not only predicts their risk for disease but, it turns out, in some cases might also have influenced that risk, ...

Yes please to yoghurt and cheese: The new improved Mediterranean diet

December 11, 2018
Thousands of Australians can take heart as new research from the University of South Australia shows a dairy-enhanced Mediterranean diet will significantly increase health outcomes for those at risk of cardiovascular disease ...

Effect of oral alfacalcidol on clinical outcomes in patients without secondary hyperparathyroidism

December 11, 2018
Treatment with active vitamin D did not decrease cardiovascular events in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis, according to a research group in Japan. They have reported their research results in the December 11 issue ...

Licence to Swill: James Bond's drinking over six decades

December 10, 2018
He may be licensed to kill but fictional British secret service agent James Bond has a severe alcohol use disorder, according to an analysis of his drinking behaviour published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.