London: A group of Scottish doctors have suggested that cooling the brain of patients who have suffered a stroke could dramatically improve their recovery.
They are joining others from across Europe who believe that inducing hypothermia in some patients can boost survival rates and reduce brain damage.
To date, studies have involved the body of patients being cooled using ice cold intravenous drips and cooling pads applied to the skin.
This lowers the body temperature to about 35C, just a couple of degrees below its normal level.
The technique puts the body into a state of artificial hibernation, where the brain can survive with less blood supply, giving doctors vital time to treat blocked or burst blood vessels.
"Our estimates are that hypothermia might improve the outcome for more than 40,000 Europeans every year,” the BBC quoted Dr Malcolm Macleod, head of experimental neuroscience at the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, as saying.
Scientists are in Brussels to discuss a Europe-wide trial of the technique.