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J Perinatol. 2009 Aug;29(8):558-63. doi: 10.1038/jp.2009.37. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

Effects of therapeutic hypothermia on multiorgan dysfunction in asphyxiated newborns: whole-body cooling versus selective head cooling.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, University of Michigan Health System, CS Mott Children's Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0254, USA.



Multiorgan dysfunction in asphyxiated newborns receiving therapeutic hypothermia achieved by either selective head cooling (SHC) or whole-body cooling (WBC) has not been well characterized. The beneficial effect of SHC in organs other than the brain may potentially be limited because unlike WBC, SHC aims to achieve effective brain cooling with less-systemic hypothermia. However, the relative effects of SHC and WBC with currently available cooling protocols on multiorgan dysfunction are unknown.The aim of this study was to compare the multiorgan dysfunction in infants receiving therapeutic hypothermia induced by either SHC or WBC.


In 59 asphyxiated newborns who received therapeutic hypothermia by either SHC (n=31) or WBC (n=28), the severity of pulmonary, hepatic and renal dysfunction and coagulopathy and electrolyte disturbances were assessed before the start of cooling (baseline), and at specific time intervals (24, 48 and 72 h) throughout cooling. Enrollment criteria, clinical monitoring and treatment during cooling, whether SHC or WBC, were similar, as reported earlier.


The presence of clinical respiratory distress, along with the need for ventilatory support for varying duration during cooling, was similar in both the WBC and SHC groups (100 vs 94%, P=0.49, OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.5-2.5). The use of fresh frozen plasma and platelet transfusion to treat coagulopathy and thrombocytopenia was similar (WBC 48% vs SHC 58%, P=0.59, OR 0.7, 95% CI 0.2-1.9, and WBC 41% vs SHC 32%, P=0.58, OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.5-4.2, respectively), and equivalent numbers of infants from both groups were treated with vasopressors for >24 h (WBC 59% vs SHC 55%, P=0.79, OR 1.2, 95% CI 0.4-3.4). The incidence of oliguria (urine output <0.5 ml kg(-1) h(-1) for >24 h after birth) and rising serum creatinine (with maximum serum creatinine >0.9 mg dl(-1)) was also similar (WBC 18% vs SHC 39%, P=0.15, OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.1-1.3, and WBC 48% vs SHC 58%, P=0.59, OR 0.7, 95% CI 0.2-1.9, respectively). Laboratory parameters to assess the differential effect of WBC versus SHC on multiorgan dysfunction during 72 h of cooling, which include serum transaminases (serum aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase), prothrombin time, partial thromboplastin time, INR, platelet counts, serum creatinine, serum sodium, serum potassium and serum calcium, were similar between the groups at the initiation of cooling and did not differ with the method of cooling.


Multiorgan system dysfunction in asphyxiated newborns during cooling remains similar for both cooling methods. Concerns regarding a differential effect of WBC versus SHC on multiorgan dysfunction, other than of the brain, should not be a consideration in selecting a method to produce therapeutic hypothermia.

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