Background: Induction of a profound hypothermia for emergency preservation and resuscitation in severe hemorrhagic shock can improve survival from lethal injuries, but the impact of hypothermia on bleeding and infectious complications has not been completely determined. Study Design: Uncontrolled hemorrhage was induced in 26 swine (95 to 135 lbs) by creating an iliac artery and vein injury, and 30 minutes later, by lacerating the descending thoracic aorta. Through a left thoracotomy approach, profound total body hypothermia (10° C) was induced (2° C/min) by infusing cold organ preservation solution into the aorta. The experimental groups were: vascular injuries alone (group 1, n = 10), vascular and colon injuries (group 2, n = 8), and vascular, colon, and splenic injuries (group 3, n = 8). All injuries were repaired during 60 minutes of low-flow cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) with hemodilution and profound hypothermia; then the animals were slowly rewarmed (0.5° C/min) back to normothermia. Survivors were monitored for 6 weeks for postoperative bleeding, neurologic deficits, cognitive function (learning new skills), organ dysfunction, and septic complications. Results: Six-week survival rates were 90% in group 1, 87.5% in group 2, and 75% in group 3 (p > 0.05). One animal in each group died from acute cardiac failure during the early postoperative phase. Splenic salvage was possible in all animals, and none required complete splenectomy for hemorrhage control. All surviving animals were neurologically intact, displayed normal learning capacity, and had no longterm organ dysfunction. None of the animals had postoperative hemorrhage or experienced septic complications. One animal in group 3 died on the ninth postoperative day because of bowel obstruction (volvulus). Conclusions: Induction of profound hypothermia can preserve the viability of key organs during repair of lethal injuries. This strategy can be used even in the presence of solid organ and bowel injuries to improve survival, without any considerable increase in postoperative complication rates.
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