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Hypertonic Fluids Don’t Help Brain Injury Victims, Study Finds

 Here’s another setback in the emergency treatment of brain injury.

A study has found that hypertonic fluid, a concentrated saline solution that paramedics administer intravenously to  head trauma patients, doesn’t help improve the patients’ chances of survival or their later brain function, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.

 The story, headlined “Saline Fluid Fails in Brain Therapy,” reports that a study released this week found that hypertonic fluid is not effective in the treatment of blunt traumatic brain injuries. That makes the saline solution the latest treatment, following anti-oxidants and intravenous magnesium, to flunk tests gauging their ability to help brain-trauma victims.

It has been believed that hypertonic fluid improves the blood flow in the brain while also decreasing intercranial pressure, and both those effects aid brain injury victims.  

The hypertonic fluid study, published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association ( JAMA), involved 1,282 patients treated by paramedics. The patients were either given regular saline solution or the hypertonic variety, which has eight times as much salt as the regular saline, according to The Journal.

 The study’s authors, who included University of Washington surgery professor Eileen Bulger, said they couldn’t see any improvement in the six-month neurological outcome of the patients who received the hypertonic solution, according to The Journal. 

The study’s authors also wrote that there was “no compelling reason” to use “hypertonic fluid resuscitation for TBI in the out-of-hospital setting.”

The Journal Wednesday also noted that the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded $26.3 million to Banyan Biomarkers Inc. of Alachua, Fla. The military wants Banyan to devise a blood test to determine “the presence and severity of brain injury,” the newspaper reported. Biomarkers are proteins that an injured brain produces.

In the combat arena, the biomarker test would let the military immediately identify who has suffered brain injury in a bomb blast, and get them off the battlefield for treatment.      


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