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Steroids May Help Prevent Pneumonia in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients

August 23, 2011

Traumatic Brain Injury

The rate of pneumonia after a traumatic brain injury is about 40% to 60%

The fact that patients with a traumatic brain injury have a heightened risk of suffering pneumonia in the days following the injury, is not unknown to Los Angeles brain injury attorneys.  However, a new study indicates that steroid use can reduce the risk of pneumonia in hospitalized brain injury patients.

The results of the study, which was conducted by French researchers, have been published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Persons with a traumatic brain injury who have been admitted into the hospital, have a severe risk of developing pneumonia.  According to the research, these risks can be dramatically reduced with the use of the steroid hydrocortisone.

The rate of pneumonia after a traumatic brain injury is about 40% to 60%.  Persons with a traumatic brain injury who develop pneumonia may have to be put on a mechanical ventilator, and may require extensive hospitalization.  The risk of fatality is also high among such patients. However, there is evidence from clinical data to suggest that the use of corticosteroids in patients, who have been admitted into a hospital intensive care unit, could reduce the risk of hospital-acquired pneumonia in these patients.

The researchers focused on 150 patients with severe brain trauma, who were being treated in a French level 1 ICU trauma center between 2006 and 2009.  Some of these patients received an intravenous drip of 200 mg a day of hydrocortisone for a period of five days, a 100 mg dose on the sixth day and a 50 mg dose on the seventh day.  The patients, who did not receive the hydrocortisone, were given a placebo.

The researchers found that 51% of the patients who were given the placebo ultimately developed pneumonia by the 20th day in the hospital.  However, among the patients who received the corticosteroid therapy, the figure dropped by 36%.  When the researchers focused specifically on patients who had an insufficient amount of natural corticosteroid in the body, they found similar results.

That was not all.  Researchers also found that the group of patients that received the corticosteroid therapy had less need for mechanical ventilation assistance.  These people also seemed to spend less time in the intensive care unit, and had a much lower risk of developing acute lung injury or acute respiratory distress syndrome.  Besides, none of these patients developed hyponatremia or low blood sodium concentrations, while more than 9% of the patients who were on the placebo did.  However, there wasn’t a huge difference in the risk of fatalities involving the groups.

Many persons, who suffer a traumatic brain injury and are hospitalized, are given steroids to eliminate the risk of a respiratory infection.   This new research seems to further support the expanded use of corticosteroid therapy in such patients.



Posted by Robert Reeves at 9:53 am - no comments
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