“Surgeons are pioneering a method of inducing extreme hypothermia in trauma patients so that their bodies shut down entirely during major surgery, giving doctors more time to perform operations. The technique helps to reduce the damage done to the brain and other organs while the patient’s heart is not beating. It also reduces the need for anaesthetic and life support machines.
Researchers are now set to begin the first human trials of the technique, which involves replacing a patient’s blood with a cold solution to rapidly chill body temperatures. The cold treatment, which is being developed at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and is featured in a BBC Two Horizon documentary, will see patient’s bodies being cooled to as low as 10 degrees C.
The normal human body temperature is 37 degrees C and usually humans quickly die if the core body temperature drops below 22 degrees C. Dr Hasan Alam, the surgeon who is leading the research at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that often emergency patients suffering from gunshot wounds, stabbings and car accidents are on the brink of death anyway so by cooling their bodies so extensively it can protect their brain and organs from damage. Dr Alam said trials of the technique in animals had shown it to be hugely successful. He said: “If you drop the body’s core temperature and brain temperature down to 15 degrees C or 10 degrees C you are talking about 60 minutes and even 190 minutes of protection. “By cooling rapidly in this fashion we can convert almost certain death into a 90 per cent survival rate.””
Read more at The Telegraph