Temperature abnormalities are recognized as a marker of human disease, and the therapeutic value of temperature is an attractive treatment target. The objective of this synthetic review is to summarize and critically appraise evidence for active temperature management in critically ill patients.
We searched MEDLINE for publications relevant to body temperature management (including targeted temperature management and antipyretic therapy) in cardiac arrest, acute ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, traumatic brain injury, and sepsis. Bibliographies of included articles were also searched to identify additional relevant studies.
English-language systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized trials, observational studies, and nonhuman data were reviewed, with a focus on the most recent randomized control trial evidence.
Data regarding study methodology, patient population, temperature management strategy, and clinical outcomes were qualitatively assessed.
Temperature management is common in critically ill patients, and multiple large trials have been conducted to elucidate temperature targets, management strategies, and timing. The strongest data concerning the use of therapeutic hypothermia exist in comatose survivors of cardiac arrest, and recent trials suggest that appropriate postarrest temperature targets between 33°C and 37.5°C are reasonable. Targeted temperature management in other critical illnesses, including acute stroke, traumatic brain injury, and sepsis, has not shown benefit in large clinical trials. Likewise, trials of pharmacologic antipyretic therapy have not demonstrated improved outcomes, although national guidelines do recommend treatment of fever in patients with stroke and traumatic brain injury based on observational evidence associating fever with worse outcomes.
Body temperature management in critically ill patients remains an appealing therapy for several illnesses, and additional studies are needed to clarify management strategies and therapeutic pathways.