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World Neurosurg. 2016 May;89:51-7. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2016.01.072. Epub 2016 Feb 4.

Cisternostomy for Traumatic Brain Injury: Pathophysiologic Mechanisms and Surgical Technical Notes.

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Department of Neurosurgery, College of Medical Sciences, Bharatpur, Nepal.
Department of Neurological Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York, USA.
Section of Neurosurgery, Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BIONEC), University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy. Electronic address:



Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the major challenges in health care, representing the third most frequent cause of death. Current optimal management is based on a progressive, target-driven approach combining both medical and surgical treatment strategies. Here we describe cisternostomy, an emerging surgical treatment for the treatment of TBI.


Cisternostomy is a novel technique that incorporates knowledge of skull base and microvascular surgery. By opening the brain cisterns to atmospheric pressure, the technique could decrease the intracranial pressure due to a backshift of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the swollen brain to the cisterns through the Virchow-Robin spaces.


An increasing number of evidence has demonstrated a paravascular pathway that facilitates CSF flow from the subarachnoid space through the brain parenchyma. This network of paravascular channels, termed as the "glymphatic" pathway, reduces considerably its activity after TBI, thus participating in the development of brain edema formation. Cisternostomy, by opening the brain cisterns to atmospheric pressure, could decrease the intracerebral pressure due to a backshift of CSF through the Virchow-Robin spaces.


In the current common practice, the surgical measures for TBI include external ventricular drainage insertion and decompressive craniectomy. There is evidence that both of these measures reduce intracranial pressure but the effect on the outcome, particularly in the long term, is equivocal. A new line of evidence supports cisternostomy as an emerging surgical treatment for TBI.


Cisternostomy; Decompressive hemicraniectomy; Traumatic brain injury

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