Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment Flops

Citicoline ineffective for traumatic brain injury

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Just because a treatment is used in many countries does not mean it is effective. Research proved this true recently with a common medication for traumatic brain injury.

A recent study found that citicoline does not appear to help patients with traumatic brain injury recover faster. The medication is actually used as a supplement in the US.

These researchers believe citicoline did not improve the patients' functional and cognitive skills.

"Always research medications before taking them."

The study, led by Ross D. Zafonte, DO, of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Network at Harvard Medical School, involved 1,213 patients at eight different US trauma centers. All the patients had mild, moderate or severe traumatic brain injury.

Citicoline is a substance produced by the body that has been used to treat several different neurological disorders. It is approved for treating traumatic brain injury in 59 countries, and it is marketed in the US as a supplement.

Starting within 24 hours of their injury, half the patients were given 2,000 mg of citicoline daily for 90 days, and the other half were given a placebo (fake pill).

After three months, the patients across both groups performed similarly on assessments of their cognitive skills and functions.

Using one measure called the Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended, the group taking citicoline improved 35.4 percent from the start of the study, and the placebo group improved 35.6 percent.

Other assessments at 3 months and at 6 months after the study began showed similar results where the improvement in both groups was not much different.

The patients who had moderate to severe brain injury or complicated mild brain injury did not improve much in either group.

The researchers therefore concluded that using citicoline to treat traumatic brain injury is not justified.

The study was published November 21 in JAMA. The research was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 20, 2012
Last Updated:
November 21, 2012