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Companies Collaborate on Emergency Hypothermia Therapy

FDNY ambulance (Michael Gil)Physio-Control Inc., a subsidiary of Medtronic Inc. in Redmond, Washington, and BeneChill Inc. in San Diego, California say they will collaborate on a new system for cooling the head and lowering body temperature following cardiac arrest or trauma. The system, called RhinoChill, will be marketed first in Europe, and then the U.S.

RhinoChill, say the companies, is a portable system for cooling the head and lowering the body’s core temperature immediately following cardiac arrest, stroke, or traumatic brain injury. The system uses a non-invasive catheter that sprays a rapidly evaporating, inert coolant liquid into the nasal cavity, a large area situated beneath the brain that acts as a heat exchanger. As the liquid evaporates, heat is directly removed from the base of the skull and surrounding tissues via conduction and indirectly through the blood via convection.

Therapeutic hypothermia, as the technology is known, has gain advocates for treating cardiac arrest in both the pre-hospital and hospital environments. The companies cite clinical studies published in 2002 demonstrating that mild hypothermia lowers mortality and improves neurological outcome after successful resuscitation from cardiac arrest.

The European Hypothermia After Cardiac Arrest trial group demonstrated an improvement in survival to hospital discharge with favorable neurological status in cooled patients compared with normothermic patients surviving cardiac arrest — 55 percent versus 39 percent respectively — with no statistically significant higher rate of adverse events from cooling.

The two companies plan to bring RhinoChill to market first in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxemburg during the first quarter of 2011. They then plan to expand the number of conditions the system can treat, and later make it available in the U.S.

Photo: Michael Gil/Flickr

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