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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 May;1345:74-82. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12482. Epub 2014 Jul 21.

What is wrong with the tenets underpinning current management of severe traumatic brain injury?

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Departments of Neurological Surgery and Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, School of Medicine and School of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.


The results of a recent randomized controlled trial comparing intracranial pressure (ICP) monitor-based treatment of severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) to management without ICP monitoring prompt this skeptical reconsideration of the scientific foundation underlying current sTBI management. Much of current practice arises from research performed under conditions that are no longer relevant today. The definition of an episode of intracranial hypertension is incomplete, and the application of a fixed, universal ICP treatment threshold is poorly founded. Although intracranial hypertension is a valid indicator of disease severity, it remains to be demonstrated that lowering ICP improves outcome. Furthermore, sTBI has not been categorized on the basis of underlying pathophysiology despite the current capability to do so. Similar concerns also apply to manipulation of cerebral perfusion with respect to maintaining universal thresholds for contrived variables rather than tailoring treatment to monitored processes. As such, there is a failure to either optimize management approaches or minimize associated treatment risks for individual sTBI patients. The clinical and research TBI communities need to reassess many of the sTBI management concepts that are currently considered well established.


cerebral perfusion pressure; cerebral pressure autoregulation; intracranial hypertension; intracranial pressure; neurological critical care; traumatic brain injury

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