The use of indomethacin to treat acute rises of intracranial pressure and improve global cerebral perfusion in a child with head trauma

R. Imberti, G. Bellinzona, M. Ilardi, P. Bruzzone, P. Pricca

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Background: The use of vasoconstrictors (e.g. dihydroergotamine, indomethacin) for the treatment of increased intracranial pressure (ICP) secondary to brain trauma is controversial. In particular, it has been suggested that vasoconstrictors be employed only for intracranial hypertension secondary to hyperemia, when venous jugular bulb saturation (SjO2) is >75%. Method: We administered indomethacin as a bolus i.v. (5-10 mg) on 18 occasions to a multiple-injured 3-year-old child with acute rises of ICP secondary to severe brain trauma (GCS score 7) determining a large hypodensity area in and swelling of the right hemisphere. Results: Before indomethacin administration the average of mean ICP was 68.1 ± 10.8 (SD) mm Hg (range 47-84) and the cerebral perfusion pressure (CCP) was 38.4 ± 10.4 mm Hg (range 30-65). In response to indomethacin, ICP dropped in a few seconds to 22.7 ± 5.6 and CCP increased to 82.4 ± 6.1 mm Hg (P <0.001), while the mean arterial pressure remained unchanged. On 6 occasions SjO2was also evaluated immediately before and 5 and 10 min after indomethacin administration. Before indomethacin administration, SjO2 values were within the normal range on 2 occasions and abnormally low on four. SjO2 increased from the mean value of 45.6 ± 15.7 to 59.8 ± 8.9 (after 5 min) and 60.6 ± 12.4% (after 10 min) (P <0.01 versus pre-indomethacin). At the same time the cerebral venous pH increased from 7.43 ± 0.01 to 7.45 ± 0.01 (P = 0.01). These findings suggest that the global cerebral perfusion was improved. Eighteen days after injury the child was awake and was discharged from the ICU. Conclusion: To our knowledge, increase of SjO2 in response to indomethacin has not been previously reported. Although great caution is necessary in the use of indomethacin for the treatment of ICP, these findings suggest that indomethacin can be useful for the treatment of acute rises of ICP compromising severely the CCP, even if SjO2 is normal or abnormally low. Under these circumstances, indomethacin can improve the global cerebral perfusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-540
Number of pages5
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Head Injury
  • Indomethacin
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Venous jugular bulb saturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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