Objective: Therapeutic hypothermia improves neurologic outcome and survival after adult out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. To help us design a prospective hypothermia trial in children, we developed a survey to assess current knowledge and attitude of pediatric critical care providers regarding therapeutic hypothermia and potential impediments to implementing a prospective study.
Design: Anonymous survey.
Setting: Internet-based survey of pediatric critical care community.
Results: A total of 159 responders completed the survey. Most respondents (92%) were fellowship-trained in pediatric critical care, with 9.9 ± 6.5 yrs of experience. Many (85%) worked in the United States; 89% were in large tertiary care centers with residency or fellowship training programs. Most (65%) were aware of the adult randomized trials of therapeutic hypothermia, but only 9% (always) or 38% (sometimes) utilize this therapy. The most common reason to use hypothermia was likelihood of patient recovery, absence of life-limiting disease, and presence of coma for ≥1 hr after resuscitation. The majority of responders using therapeutic hypothermia cool their patients to 33–35°C for a duration ranging from as short as 12 hrs to as long as 96 hrs; 91% do not actively rewarm the patient. A majority (81%) agree that a randomized, controlled trial of therapeutic hypothermia in children is ethical, and 95% would be willing to randomize their patients. Finally, 81% thought that therapeutic hypothermia should be studied in other ischemic insults and not just cardiac arrest.
Conclusions: Despite widespread awareness of therapeutic hypothermia’s beneficial effects after arrest, it is not widely used by pediatric critical care clinicians sampled in our survey. Among those using hypothermia, there is wide variation in methodology and end points of therapy. This seems to result from a lack of evidence, difficulty with the technique, and unavailability of explicit protocols. Pediatric studies are needed to assess the safety, feasibility, and effectiveness of therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest and other causes of brain injury.