What is the value of hypothermia in acute neurologic diseases and status epilepticus?


Address correspondence to Dr. Andrea O. Rossetti, Service de Neurologie, CHUV-BH07, CH-1011-Lausanne, Switzerland. E-mail: andrea.rossetti@chuv.ch


Patients with status epilepticus that proves refractory to anesthetic agents represent a daunting challenge for treating clinicians. Animal data support the neuroprotective action of brain hypothermia, and its efficacy in status epilepticus models. This approach, targeting a core temperature of about 33°C for at least 24 hours together with pharmacological sedation, has been described in adults and children. However, although relatively safe if concomitant barbiturates are avoided, it seems that mild hypothermia rarely allows a sustained control of ongoing status epilepticus, since seizures tend to recur in normothermia. Conversely, mild hypothermia has a high-evidence level and is increasingly used in postanoxic encephalopathy, both in newborns and adults. Due to the paucity of available clinical data, prospective studies are needed to assess the value of hypothermia in status epilepticus.