Hypothermia is commonly used for organ and tissue preservation in multiple clinical settings, but its role in the management of injured patients remains controversial. There is no doubt that temperature modulation is a powerful tool, and hypothermia has been shown to protect cells during ischaemia and reperfusion, decrease organ damage and improve survival. Yet hypothermia is a double-edged sword: unless carefully managed, its induction can be associated with a number of complications.
A literature review was performed to include important papers that address the impact of hypothermia on key biological processes, and explore the potential therapeutic role of hypothermia in trauma/haemorrhage models.
No clinical studies have been conducted to test the therapeutic benefits of hypothermia in injured patients. However, numerous well designed animal studies support this concept. Despite excellent preclinical data, there are several potential barriers to translating hypothermia into clinical practice.
Therapeutic hypothermia is a promising life-saving strategy. Appropriate patient selection requires a thorough understanding of how temperature modulation affects various biological mechanisms. Copyright © 2011 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.