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Br J Neurosurg. 2009 Dec;23(6):576-84. doi: 10.3109/02688690903050352.

Normobaric hyperoxia therapy for traumatic brain injury and stroke: a review.

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Department of Neurosurgery, King's College Hospital, London, UK.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and acute ischaemic stroke are major causes of mortality and morbidity and there is an urgent demand for new neuroprotective strategies following the translational failure of neuroprotective drug trials. Oxygen therapy--especially normobaric, may offer a simple and effective therapeutic strategy which we review in this paper. Firstly we review mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of hyperoxia (both normobaric and hyperbaric) including mitochondrial rescue, stabilisation of intracranial pressure, attenuation of cortical spreading depression and inducing favourable endothelial-leukocyte interactions, all effects of which are postulated to decrease secondary injury. Next we survey studies using hyperbaric oxygen therapy for TBI and stroke, which formed the basis for early studies on normobaric hyperoxia. Thirdly, we present clinical studies of the efficacy of normobaric hyperoxia on TBI and stroke, emphasising their safety, efficacy and practicality. Finally we consider safety concerns and side effects, particularly pulmonary pathology, respiratory failure and theoretical risks in paediatric patients. A neuroprotective role of normobaric hyperoxia is extremely promising and further studies are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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