Hypertonic saline is a promising treatment for children with traumatic brain injury

Kid in Wheelchair with Football

Estimates suggest that by 2020, traumatic brain injury (TBI) will be the third-highest cause of morbidity and mortality among children worldwide. Because children have developing brains, TBI can cause significant impairments to their cognition, behavior, motor function, and overall quality of life. Therefore, clinicians are seeking promising new interventions that can improve outcomes among young TBI patients.

Researchers believe that hypertonic saline may reduce pressure in the skull after TBI, but few studies have addressed this claim. A group of researchers aimed to fill this gap by studying the effects of 3% hypertonic saline solution on pediatric patients who sustained moderate to severe TBI. They collected data from 105 patients (aged 2-16 years) who were admitted to the emergency department for blunt-force TBI, some of whom received 3% hypertonic saline to treat their injuries. They found that patients who received hypertonic saline showed significant improvements on the Glasgow Coma Scale (a measure of consciousness and injury severity) and had a shorter length of hospital stay than children who were not treated with hypertonic saline.

The researchers believe that children who received hypertonic saline showed improved outcomes because the treatment decreased intracranial pressure, reducing secondary brain injuries that are known to complicate the TBI recovery process. These results align with previous findings that hypertonic saline is a promising treatment for patients with moderate to severe TBI, although further research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of hypertonic solution for mild TBI.

Siddiqui EU, Waheed S, Perveen F, et al. Clinical outcome of paediatric patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) receiving 3% hypertonic saline (HTS) in the emergency room of a tertiary care hospital. Journal of Pakistan Medical Association. (September 2019).

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