Researchers Publish Studies of Use of Mild Hypothermia in Spinal Cord

Studies of Use of Mild Hypothermia for Acute Spinal Cord Injury

March 2013 – Researchers at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis have published six-year findings in the journal Spinal Cord, the official journal of the International Spinal Cord Society, that provide additional evidence that the use of mild hypothermia is a safe and effective strategy for treating acute spinal cord injuries.

Much of the pre-clinical investigative data on the use of hypothermia post-injury, which was pioneered by Miami Project and Miller School researchers, led senior author Allan Levi, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurological surgery, orthopedics, and rehabilitation medicine, and first author Marine Dididze, M.D., Ph.D., associate scientist of neurological surgery, to undertake the latest study, which to date represents the largest prospective series of cervical spinal cord injury patients treated by modest hypothermia.

For their study, “Systemic hypothermia in acute cervical spinal cord injury: a case-controlled study,” 35 patients with cervical spinal cord injury – the most serious form of spinal cord injury –  received systemic intravascular cooling to bring their body core temperature to 33 degrees Celsius.

The treatment, conducted by University of Miami faculty at Jackson Memorial Hospital, proved to be both safe and extremely neuroprotective. Forty-three percent of patients who received hypothermia treatment achieved better neurological outcomes when compared to the anticipated outcomes for patients with a similar injury who did not receive hypothermia, results the researchers say should encourage other institutions to take a closer look at the use of modest hypothermia in acute SCI cases.

Studies are underway to initiate multi-center, prospective trials to further prove the effectiveness of systemic intravascular cooling in the clinical setting.

Other Miller School co-authors of the study are Barth Green, M.D., professor and Chair of neurological surgery, W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., Scientific Director of The Miami Project and professor of neurological surgery, neurology and cell biology and anatomy, Steven Vanni, D.O., associate professor of neurological surgery, and Michael Y. Wang, M.D., professor of neurological surgery and rehabilitation medicine.

Levi and his Miami Project colleagues published initial papers showing the effectiveness of mild hypothermia for spinal cord injuries in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma and the April 2010 issue of Neurosurgery.