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According to a press release issued by the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health has stopped a clinical trial studying the benefits and safety of administering a highly concentrated form of saline solution in the ambulance (before hospital arrival) to trauma patients suffering from shock due to severe bleeding. The trial was stopped because patients who received the concentrated saline solutions were no more likely to survive than those who received a normal saline solution. A parallel study of concentrated saline for traumatic brain injury without shock continues.
 
Typically, in the crucial early minutes before blood transfusions can be safely administered in the hospital, trauma patients receive normal saline solution intravenously in the field to compensate for blood loss and buy time. Concentrated saline solution is believed to compensate for blood loss more effectively, lessen excessive inflammatory responses, and prevent brain swelling.
 
The now-resumed trial of brain- injured patients continues to investigate whether the hypertonic solutions improve both survival and brain function in patients 6 months after traumatic injury. As the traumatic brain injury study continues, ROC investigators hope that hypertonic saline will prove beneficial for this application. "Patients with traumatic brain injury have significant swelling of the brain, and hypertonic fluids are known to be very effective at reducing this swelling, which may improve recovery," said Eileen Bulger, M.D., the University of Washington, Seattle, and co-principal investigator of the hypertonic saline studies.
 
"Hypertonic saline has also been shown to improve blood flow to the brain after injury and to protect nerve cells from increased intracranial pressure," added David Hoyt, M.D., University of California, Irvine, the other co-principal investigator of the hypertonic saline studies.

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