Salt or sugar for your injured brain? A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials of mannitol versus hypertonic sodium solutions to manage raised intracranial pressure in traumatic brain injury

Authors: Rickard AC, Smith JE, Newell P, Bailey A, Kehoe A, Mann C.

BACKGROUND: Rising intracranial pressure (ICP) is a poor prognostic indicator in traumatic brain injury (TBI). Both mannitol and hypertonic sodium solutions are used to treat raised ICP in patients with TBI.
OBJECTIVE: This meta-analysis compares the use of mannitol versus hypertonic sodium solutions for ICP control in patients with TBI.
DATA SOURCES AND STUDY ELIGIBILITY: Randomised clinical trials in adults with TBI and evidence of raised ICP, which compare the effect on ICP of hypertonic sodium solutions and mannitol.
METHODS: The primary outcome measure is the pooled mean reduction in ICP. Studies were combined using a Forest plot.
RESULTS: Six studies were included, comprising 171 patients (599 episodes of raised ICP). The weighted mean difference in ICP reduction, using hypertonic sodium solutions compared with mannitol, was 1.39 mm Hg (95% CI -0.74 to 3.53).
LIMITATIONS: Methodological differences between studies limit the conclusions of this meta-analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: The evidence shows that both agents effectively lower ICP. There is a trend favouring the use of hypertonic sodium solutions in patients with TBI.

Full text and source: Emergency medicine journal

Emerg Med J. 2013 Jun 28.