A systematic review of the effects of body temperature on outcome after adult traumatic brain injury

Lori Kennedy Madden, Holli A. Devon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This systematic review describes effects of body temperature alterations defined as fever, controlled normothermia, and spontaneous or induced hypothermia on outcome after traumatic brain injury (TBI) in adults. Data Sources: A search was conducted using PubMed, Cochrane Library database, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, EMBASE, and ISI Web of Science in July 2013 with no back date restriction except for induced hypothermia (2009). Study Selection: Of 1366 titles identified, 712 were reviewed. Sixteen articles met inclusion criteria: randomized controlled trials in hypothermia since 2009 (last Cochrane review) or cohort studies of temperature in TBI, measure core and/or brain temperature, neurologic outcome reporting, primarily adult patients, and English language publications. Exclusion criteria were as follows: most patients with non-TBI diagnosis, primarily pediatric patients, case reports, or laboratory/animal studies. Data Synthesis: Most studies found that fever avoidance resulted in positive outcomes including decreased length of stay in the intensive care unit; mortality; and incidence of hypertension, elevated intracranial pressure, and tachycardia. Hypothermia on admission correlated with poor outcomes. Controlled normothermia improved surrogate outcomes. Prophylactic induced hypothermia is not supported by the available evidence from randomized controlled trial. Conclusion: Setting a goal of normothermia, avoiding fever, and aggressively treating fever may be most important after TBI. Further research is needed to characterize the magnitude and duration of temperature alteration after TBI, determine if temperature alteration influences or predicts neurologic outcome, determine if rate of temperature change influences or predicts neurologic outcome, and compare controlled normothermia versus standard practice or hypothermia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-203
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 17 2015


  • Body temperature
  • body temperature changes
  • brain injuries
  • craniocerebral trauma
  • emergency treatment
  • fever
  • hypothermia
  • normothermia
  • outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medical–Surgical


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