Body cooling treatment saves man from electric shock

By Thu Anh   September 16, 2020 | 02:30 am PT
Body cooling treatment saves man from electric shock
Doctors at Da Nang Hospital and an electric shock victim (C) they have saved by cooling his body, September 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Thu Thao.
A 19-year-old man woke after three days of 'hibernation' when doctors in Da Nang induced therapeutic hypothermia to save the electric shock patient.

Nguyen Tan Hung, a doctor from Da Nang Hospital's intensive care unit of toxicity, said the patient was working in a garment factory in neighboring Quang Nam Province where he was electrocuted last Tuesday. He stopped breathing and lost his pulse.

After receiving first aid treatment and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), he was transferred to hospital. At the time, the patient's heart started beating again, but he fell into a deep coma, facing the risk of brain damage following cardiac arrest.

"The patient was susceptible to sequela such as dementia, lethargy, and life in a vegetative state," Dr. Hung recalled.

The patient was immediately transferred to ICU, put on ventilation and given vasopressor infusions. Doctors applied therapeutic hypothermia, dropping the patient's body temperature, to prevent brain damage.

Hung explained the brain could become anemic in case the heart fails to supply it with blood. When the heart does suddenly start beating again, the massive amount of blood flow could damage brain cells. Therefore, therapeutic hypothermia was applied to help metabolize blood flow and support brain recovery.

His body temperature was lowered to 33 degrees Celsius, resulting in the patient entering a state of "hibernation" for 24 hours straight. After that, the temperature was gradually increased by 0.15 degrees per hour until it reached 37 degrees Celsius.

The patient woke from coma after three days and was able to blink and make some movements. After seven days of treatment, he had completely woken. He was able to communicate and eat normally, having recovered his memory. The patient was discharged from hospital on Monday.

Doctors concluded he had suffered no motor nerve damage to the brain, and could resume normal life.

Over the past three years, Da Nang Hospital has applied therapeutic hypothermia to save at least 10 patients with cardiac arrest sustained from electric shock, drowning, arrhythmia, brain injury, a stroke, etc.

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