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Intravenous paracetamol for fever control in acute brain-injured patients: cerebral and hemodynamic effects


Fever is a dangerous secondary insult for the injured brain [1]. We investigated the cerebral and hemodynamic effects of intravenous (i.v.) paracetamol administration for the control of fever in neurointensive care unit (NICU) patients.


The i.v. paracetamol (1 g in 15 minutes) was administered to NICU patients with a body temperature (Temp.) >37.5°C. Its effects on mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), intracranial pressure (ICP), cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), jugular venous oxygen saturation (SjVO2) and Temp. were recorded at the start of paracetamol infusion (T0) and after 30 (T30), 60 (T60) and 120 (T120) minutes. Interventions for the maintenance of CPP >60 mmHg or ICP <20 mmHg were recorded.


Fifteen NICU patients (nine subarachnoid hemorrhage, five traumatic brain injury, mean age 54.9 ± 16.8, seven (50%) males, median GCS 7) were prospectively studied. We analyzed the administration of one dose of paracetamol for each patient (total 14 cases). After infusion of paracetamol we found a decrease of Temp. (from 37.8 ± 0.3 to 37.4 ± 0.4°C, P < 0.001), MAP (from 94.7 ± 9.9 to 86.1 ± 6.7 mmHg, P = 0.008), CPP (from 79.6 ± 13.1 to 70.8 ± 7.6 mmHg, P = 0.011) and HR (from 71.5 ± 14.9 to 63.8 ± 16.3 bpm, P < 0.001) with respect to the starting value (ANOVA for repeated measures), whereas ICP and SjVO2 remained unchanged (Figure 1). In five cases norepinephrine infusion was started for CPP <60 mmHg. In another two cases, for the same reason, the norepinephrine dosage was augmented. The proportion of patients who had infusion of norepinephrine increased from 42.8% at T0 to 78.6% at T120 (P = 0.02, chi-square for trends).


Use of i.v. paracetamol is effective in the maintenance of normothermia in acute brain-injured patients. However, adverse hemodynamic effects, which could represent a secondary insult for the injured brain, must be rapidly recognized and treated.

Figure 1

* P < 0.05 versus T0.


  1. 1.

    Greer DM, Funk SE, Reaven NL, Ouzounelli M, Uman GC: Impact of fever on outcome in patients with stroke and neurologic injury. Stroke 2008, 39: 3029-3035. 10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.521583

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Correspondence to E Picetti.

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Picetti, E., Rossi, I., Ceccarelli, P. et al. Intravenous paracetamol for fever control in acute brain-injured patients: cerebral and hemodynamic effects. Crit Care 17, P329 (2013).

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  • Norepinephrine
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Paracetamol
  • Mean Arterial Pressure
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage