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Neurol India. 2019 Sep-Oct;67(5):1225-1232. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.271260.

Role of Decompressive Craniectomy in Traumatic Brain Injury - A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.

Author information

Department of Neurosurgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Department of Anaesthesia, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Department of Radiodiagnosis, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.



Several studies have indicated that decompressive craniectomy (DC) for traumatic brain injury (TBI) is lifesaving. However, there is lack of level 1 evidence to define the role of DC in TBI. We performed a meta-analysis of all the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published so far on the role of DC in adult patients with TBI.

Materials and Methods:

A systematic literature search was performed for articles published until September of 2016 for RCTs of DC in adult patients with TBI. The primary end-point was mortality at six-months. We also evaluated the overall adverse outcomes at six months. Assessment of risk of bias of the RCTs was also performed.


Three trials evaluating adult population satisfied the eligibility criteria. Pooled analysis involved 285 and 288 patients in DC group and control groups respectively. Patients undergoing DC for TBI had a lower mortality association of nearly 50 percent. However, patients surviving DC were more likely to have a poor neurological outcome compared to patients undergoing medical management.


Based on the available RCTs on DC in TBI, the results of our meta-analysis show that there is a mortality benefit of performing a DC over the best medical management in adult patients. Furthermore, surviving following DC, a greater incidence of a poor neurological outcome is noted. In the event of small number of high-quality RCTs, our results must be interpreted with caution.


Craniectomy; decompressive; outcome; traumatic brain injury

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