Surgery of cerebral trauma and associated critical care

Alex B. Valadka, Claudia S. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The last 30 years have been both exciting and frustrating for those in the field of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Much has been learned, but no new treatment has been shown to improve patient outcomes despite the execution of many clinical trials. The overall incidence of TBI has decreased, probably because of intensive efforts toward prevention and education. Rigorous assessment of available research has produced several evidence-based guidelines for the management of neurotrauma patients. The creation of organized emergency medical services systems in many regions has improved prehospital care. Computed tomographic scans have become the gold standard for obtaining immediate images of patients with TBI, and ongoing advances in visualizing cerebral metabolism continue to be remarkable. The major current question regarding surgical treatment for TBI involves the role of decompressive craniectomy, an operation that first fell out of favor and has since (in the last three decades) enjoyed a resurgence of interest. Growing interest in the intensive care management of TBI patients helped to establish the new field of neurocritical care. Prophylactic hyperventilation is no longer recommended, and earlier recommendations for aggressive elevation of blood pressure have been softened to endorsement of a cerebral perfusion pressure of 60 mmHg. Recombinant factor VIIa is increasingly used for minimizing complications related to coagulopathy. Intracranial pressure monitoring is now recommended for the majority of TBI patients. At present, available technologies allow measurement of other aspects of cerebral metabolism including cerebral blood flow, brain oxygen tension, biochemistry, and electrical activity. Therapeutic interventions that are growing in popularity or are presently under investigation include administration of hypertonic saline, hyperoxygenation, decompressive craniectomy, and hypothermia. Rehabilitation has become accepted as an important part of the TBI recovery process, and additional work is needed to identify optimal interventions in this area. Socioeconomic factors will play a growing role in our treatment of TBI patients. Although much progress has been made in the last 30 years, the challenge now is to find ways to translate that progress into improved care and outcomes for TBI patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)SHC-203-SHC-220
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Computed tomography
  • Guidelines
  • Neurocritical care
  • Neurotrauma
  • Prehospital
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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