BACKGROUND: Selective head cooling (SHC) with moderate hypothermia (HT) and whole-body cooling are beneficial following perinatal asphyxia. SHC with systemic normothermia (NT) or minimal HT is under-investigated, could obviate systemic complications of moderate HT, and be applicable to preterm infants. We hypothesized that minimal systemic HT with SHC following hypoxia-ischemia (HI) would be neuroprotective compared with systemic NT.
METHODS: Newborn pigs underwent global HI causing permanent brain injury before being randomized to NT (rectal temperature (Trectal) 38.5 °C) or minimal HT (Trectal 37.0 °C) with SHC (cooling cap and body wrap) for 48 h followed by 24-h NT with 72-h survival.
RESULTS: SHC did not reduce global or regional neuropathology score when correcting for insult severity or compared with a NT group matched for HI severity but increased mortality by 26%. During 48 h, the SHC mean ± SD Trectal was 37.0 ± 0.2 °C, and Tdeep brain and Tsuperficial brain were 35.0 ± 1.1 °C and 31.5 ± 1.6 °C, respectively, with stable Tbrain achieved ≥ 3 h after starting cooling.
CONCLUSION: This is the first study in newborn pigs of minimal systemic HT with SHC for 48 h and a further 24 h of NT following HI. Mortality was increased in the cooled group with no neuroprotection in survivors.