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BackgroundThe Prophylactic hypOthermia to Lessen trAumatic bRain injury-Randomised Controlled Trial (POLAR-RCT) will evaluate whether early and sustained prophylactic hypothermia delivered to patients with severe traumatic brain injury improves patient-centred outcomes.MethodsThe POLAR-RCT is a multicentre, randomised, parallel group, phase III trial of early, prophylactic cooling in critically ill patients with severe traumatic brain injury, conducted in Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. A total of 511 patients aged 18-60 years have been enrolled with severe acute traumatic brain injury. The trial intervention of early and sustained prophylactic hypothermia to 33 °C for 72 h will be compared to standard normothermia maintained at a core temperature of 37 °C. The primary outcome is the proportion of favourable neurological outcomes, comprising good recovery or moderate disability, observed at six months following randomisation utilising a midpoint dichotomisation of the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOSE). Secondary outcomes, also assessed at six months following randomisation, include the probability of an equal or greater GOSE level, mortality, the proportions of patients with haemorrhage or infection, as well as assessment of quality of life and health economic outcomes. The planned sample size will allow 80% power to detect a 30% relative risk increase from 50% to 65% (equivalent to a 15% absolute risk increase) in favourable neurological outcome at a two-sided alpha of 0.05.DiscussionConsistent with international guidelines, a detailed and prospective analysis plan has been developed for the POLAR-RCT. This plan specifies the statistical models for evaluation of primary and secondary outcomes, as well as defining covariates for adjusted analyses and methods for exploratory analyses. Application of this statistical analysis plan to the forthcoming POLAR-RCT trial will facilitate unbiased analyses of these important clinical data.Trial, NCT00987688 (first posted 1 October 2009); Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12609000764235 . Registered on 3 September 2009.

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Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre, Monash University, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne, 3004, Australia.


POLAR investigators and the ANZICS Clinical Trials Group, Humans, Neurologic Examination, Disability Evaluation, Treatment Outcome, Hypothermia, Induced, Glasgow Coma Scale, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Prospective Studies, Recovery of Function, Time Factors, Adolescent, Adult, Middle Aged, Middle East, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, Female, Male, Multicenter Studies as Topic, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic, Young Adult, Brain Injuries, Traumatic