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Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2002;81:77-9.

Decompressive craniectomy following traumatic brain injury: ICP, CPP and neurological outcome.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Charité, Virchow Med Campus, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany.


Decompressive craniectomy is often the final option in the management of posttraumatic intracranial hypertension. Aim of this study was to investigate the effect of secondary decompression on intracranial pressure (ICP), cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) and neurological outcome. 62 patients decompressed after severe head injury were included in the retrospective study. Decompression was performed when ICP could not be controlled by non-surgical treatment. Mean age was 36.6 yrs, 77.4% were male. Initial Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) was 6. Outcome was determined 6 months after trauma according to the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) and the functional Barthel-Index (BI). In the last hour before decompression ICP was 40.5 +/- 1.6 mmHg and CPP was 65.3 +/- 2.1 mmHg (being maintained, if necesary, by catecholamines). ICP was significantly reduced to 9.8 +/- 1.3 mmHg by surgery and CPP improved to 78.2 +/- 2.3 mmHg. 12 hrs following decompression mean ICP rose to 21.6 +/- 1.7 mmHg again (CPP: 73.6 +/- 1.7 mmHg), but in the following period ICP could be kept below 25 mmHg in the majority of patients. 6 months after trauma 22.5% of the patients had died (except one all these patients were aged more than 50 yrs). 48.4% of patients survived with an unfavourable outcome (GOS 2 + 3), while 29.1% had a favourable outcome (GOS 4 + 5). Decompressive craniectomy is highly effective to treat otherwise uncontrollable intracranial hypertension and improves CPP. A satisfactory outcome, however, is only achieved under strict consideration of negative predictors (e.g. age).

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