Decompressive craniotomy: an international survey of practice

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke have devastating consequences and are major global public health issues. For patients that require a cerebral decompression after suffering a TBI or stroke, a decompressive craniectomy (DC) is the most commonly performed operation. However, retrospective non-randomized studies suggest that a decompressive craniotomy (DCO; also known as hinge or floating craniotomy), where a bone flap is replaced but not rigidly fixed, has comparable outcomes to DC. The primary aim of this project was to understand the current extent of usage of DC and DCO for TBI and stroke worldwide.

A questionnaire was designed and disseminated globally via emailing lists and social media to practicing neurosurgeons between June and November 2019.

We received 208 responses from 60 countries [40 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)]. DC is used more frequently than DCO, however, about one-quarter of respondents are using a DCO in more than 25% of their patients. The three top indications for a DCO were an acute subdural hematoma (ASDH) and a GCS of 9-12, ASDH with contusions and a GCS of 3-8, and ASDH with contusions and a GCS of 9-12. There were 8 DCO techniques used with the majority (60/125) loosely tying sutures to the bone flap. The majority (82%) stated that they were interested in collaborating on a randomized trial of DCO vs. DC.

Our results show that DCO is a procedure carried out for TBI and stroke, especially in LMICs, and most commonly for an ASDH. The majority of the respondents were interested in collaborating on a is a future randomized trial.

Epidemiology of Traumatic Brain Injury in Georgia: A Prospective Hospital-Based Study

Purpose: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, disproportionally affecting low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Epidemiological characteristics of TBI at a national level are absent for most LMICs including Georgia. This study aimed to establish the registries and assess causes and outcomes in TBI patients presenting to two major trauma hospitals in the capital city –Tbilisi.
Patients and Methods: The prospective observational study was conducted at Acad. O. Gudushauri National Medical Center and M. Iashvili Children’s Central Hospital from March, 1 through August, 31, 2019. Patients of all age groups admitted to one of the study hospitals with a TBI diagnosis were eligible for participation. Collected data were uploaded using the electronic data collection tool –REDCap, analyzed through SPSS software and evaluated to provide detailed information on TBI-related variables and outcomes using descriptive statistics.
Results: Overall, 542 hospitalized patients were enrolled during the study period, about 63% were male and the average age was 17.7. The main causes of TBI were falls (58%) and struck by or against an object (22%). The 97% suffered from mild TBI (GCS 13– 15). Over 23% of patients arrived at the hospital more than 1 hour after injury and 25% after more than 4-hours post-injury. Moderate and severe TBI were associated with an increased hospital length of stay. Mortality rate of severe TBI was 54%.
Conclusion: This study provides important information on the major epidemiological characteristics of TBI in Georgia, which should be considered for setting priorities for injury management

Traumatic Brain Injury in Mumbai: A Survey of Providers along the Care Continuum

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) represents a significant burden of a global disease, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) such as India. Efforts to curb the impact of TBI require an appreciation of local factors related to this disease and its treatment.

Semi-structured qualitative interviews were administered to paramedics, anesthesiologists, general surgeons, and neurosurgeons in locations throughout Mumbai from April to May 2018. A thematic analysis with an iterative coding was used to analyze the data. The primary objective was to identify provider-perceived themes related to TBI care in Mumbai.

A total of 50 participants were interviewed, including 17 paramedics, 15 anesthesiologists, 9 general surgeons, and 9 neurosurgeons who were involved in caring for TBI patients. The majority of physicians interviewed discussed their experiences in public sector hospitals (82%), while 12% discussed private sector hospitals and 6% discussed both. Four major themes emerged: Workforce, equipment, financing care, and the family and public role. These themes were often discussed in the context of their effects on increasing or decreasing complications and delays. Participants developed adaptations when managing shortcomings in these thematic areas. These adaptations included teamwork during workforce shortages and resource allocation when equipment was limited among others.

Workforce, equipment, financing care, and the family and public role were identified as major themes in the care for TBI in Mumbai. These thematic elements provide a framework to evaluate and improve care along the care spectrum for TBI. Similar frameworks should be adapted to local contexts in urbanizing cities in LMICs.

Decompressive Craniectomy in Traumatic Brain Injury: An Institutional Experience of 131 Cases in Two Years

Decompressive craniectomy (DC) effectively reduces intracranial pressure (ICP), but is not considered to be a first-line procedure. We retrospectively analyzed sociodemographic, clinical, and surgical characteristics associated with the prognosis of patients who underwent DC to treat traumatic intracranial hypertension (ICH) at the Restauração Hospital (HR) in Recife, Brazil between 2015 and 2016, and compared the clinical features with surgical timing and functional outcome at discharge. The data were collected from 131 medical records in the hospital database. A significant majority of the patients were young adults (age 18-39 years old; 75/131; 57.3%) and male (118/131; 90.1%). Road traffic accidents, particularly those involving motorcycles (57/131; 44.5%), were the main cause of the traumatic event. At initial evaluation, 63 patients (48.8%) were classified with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Pupil examination showed no abnormalities for 91 patients (71.1%), and acute subdural hematoma was the most frequently observed lesion (83/212; 40%). Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score was used to categorize surgical results and 51 patients (38.9%) had an unfavorable outcome. Only the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score on admission (score of 3-8) was more likely to be associated with unfavorable outcome (p-value = 0.009), indicating that this variable may be a determinant of mortality and prognostic of poor outcome. Patients who underwent an operation sooner after injury, despite having a worse condition on admission, presented with clinical results that were similar to those of patients who underwent surgery 12 h after hospital admission. These results emphasize the importance of early DC for management of severe TBI. This study shows that DC is a common procedure used to manage TBI patients at HR.

An analysis of emergency care delays experienced by traumatic brain injury patients presenting to a regional referral hospital in a low-income country

Trauma is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), trauma patients have a higher risk of experiencing delays to care due to limited hospital resources and difficulties in reaching a health facility. Reducing delays to care is an effective method for improving trauma outcomes. However, few studies have investigated the variety of care delays experienced by trauma patients in LMICs. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence of pre- and in-hospital delays to care, and their association with poor outcomes among trauma patients in a low-income setting.

We used a prospective traumatic brain injury (TBI) registry from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center in Moshi, Tanzania to model nine unique delays to care. Multiple regression was used to identify delays significantly associated with poor in-hospital outcomes.

Our analysis included 3209 TBI patients. The most common delay from injury occurrence to hospital arrival was 1.1 to 4.0 hours (31.9%). Most patients were evaluated by a physician within 15.0 minutes of arrival (69.2%). Nearly all severely injured patients needed and did not receive a brain computed tomography scan (95.0%). A majority of severely injured patients needed and did not receive oxygen (80.8%). Predictors of a poor outcome included delays to lab tests, fluids, oxygen, and non-TBI surgery.

Time to care data is informative, easy to collect, and available in any setting. Our time to care data revealed significant constraints to non-personnel related hospital resources. Severely injured patients with the greatest need for care lacked access to medical imaging, oxygen, and surgery. Insights from our study and future studies will help optimize resource allocation in low-income hospitals thereby reducing delays to care and improving trauma outcomes in LMICs.

Cost-effectiveness analysis of tranexamic acid for the treatment of traumatic brain injury, based on the results of the CRASH-3 randomised trial: a decision modelling approach

Introduction An estimated 69 million traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur each year worldwide, with most in low-income and middle-income countries. The CRASH-3 randomised trial found that intravenous administration of tranexamic acid within 3 hours of injury reduces head injury deaths in patients sustaining a mild or moderate TBI. We examined the cost-effectiveness of tranexamic acid treatment for TBI.

Methods A Markov decision model was developed to assess the cost-effectiveness of treatment with and without tranexamic acid, in addition to current practice. We modelled the decision in the UK and Pakistan from a health service perspective, over a lifetime time horizon. We used data from the CRASH-3 trial for the risk of death during the trial period (28 days) and patient quality of life, and data from the literature to estimate costs and long-term outcomes post-TBI. We present outcomes as quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and 2018 costs in pounds for the UK, and US dollars for Pakistan. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) per QALY gained were estimated, and compared with country specific cost-effective thresholds. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were also performed.

Results Tranexamic acid was highly cost-effective for patients with mild TBI and intracranial bleeding or patients with moderate TBI, at £4288 per QALY in the UK, and US$24 per QALY in Pakistan. Tranexamic acid was 99% and 98% cost-effective at the cost-effectiveness thresholds for the UK and Pakistan, respectively, and remained cost-effective across all deterministic sensitivity analyses. Tranexamic acid was even more cost-effective with earlier treatment administration. The cost-effectiveness for those with severe TBI was uncertain.

Conclusion Early administration of tranexamic acid is highly cost-effective for patients with mild or moderate TBI in the UK and Pakistan, relative to the cost-effectiveness thresholds used. The estimated ICERs suggest treatment is likely to be cost-effective across all income settings globally.

Impact of nursing education and a monitoring tool on outcomes in traumatic brain injury

Throughout the world, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality. Low-and middle-income countries experience an especially high burden of TBI. While guidelines for TBI management exist in high income countries, little is known about the optimal management of TBI in low resource settings. Prevention of secondary injuries is feasible in these settings and has potential to improve mortality.

A pragmatic quasi-experimental study was conducted in the emergency centre (EC) of Mulago National Referral Hospital to evaluate the impact of TBI nursing education and use of a monitoring tool on mortality. Over 24 months, data was collected on 541 patients with moderate (GCS9-13) to severe (GCS≤8) TBI. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality and secondary outcomes included time to imaging, time to surgical intervention, time to advanced airway, length of stay and number of vital signs recorded.

Data were collected on 286 patients before the intervention and 255 after. Unadjusted mortality was higher in the post-intervention group but appeared to be related to severity of TBI, not the intervention itself. Apart from number of vital signs, secondary outcomes did not differ significantly between groups. In the post-intervention group, vital signs were recorded an average of 2.85 times compared to 0.49 in the pre-intervention group (95% CI 2.08-2.62, p ≤ 0.001). The median time interval between vital signs in the post-intervention group was 4.5 h (IQR 2.1-10.6).

Monitoring of vital signs in the EC improved with nursing education and use of a monitoring tool, however, there was no detectable impact on mortality. The high mortality among patients with TBI underscores the need for treatment strategies that can be implemented in low resource settings. Promising approaches include improved monitoring, organized trauma systems and protocols with an emphasis on early aggressive care and primary prevention.

Emergency department management of traumatic brain injuries: A resource tiered review

Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability globally with an estimated African incidence of approximately 8 million cases annually. A person suffering from a TBI is often aged 20–30, contributing to sustained disability and large negative economic impacts of TBI. Effective emergency care has the potential to decrease morbidity from this multisystem trauma.

Identify and summarize key recommendations for emergency care of patients with traumatic brain injuries using a resource tiered framework.

A literature review was conducted on clinical care of brain-injured patients in resource-limited settings, with a focus on the first 48 h of injury. Using the AfJEM resource tiered review and PRISMA guidelines, articles were identified and used to describe best practice care and management of the brain-injured patient in resource-limited settings.

Key recommendations
Optimal management of the brain-injured patient begins with early and appropriate triage. A complete history and physical can identify high-risk patients who present with mild or moderate TBI. Clinical decision rules can aid in the identification of low-risk patients who require no neuroimaging or only a brief period of observation. The management of the severely brain-injured patient requires a systematic approach focused on the avoidance of secondary injury, including hypotension, hypoxia, and hypoglycaemia. Most interventions to prevent secondary injury can be implemented at all facility levels. Urgent neuroimaging is recommended for patients with severe TBI followed by consultation with a neurosurgeon and transfer to an intensive care unit. The high incidence and poor outcomes of traumatic brain injury in Africa make this subject an important focus for future research and intervention to further guide optimal clinical care.

Prediction of Early TBI Mortality Using a Machine Learning Approach in a LMIC Population

Background: In a time when the incidence of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is increasing in low- to middle-income countries (LMICs), it is important to understand the behavior of predictive variables in an LMIC’s population. There are few previous attempts to generate prediction models for TBI outcomes from local data in LMICs. Our study aim is to design and compare a series of predictive models for mortality on a new cohort in TBI patients in Brazil using Machine Learning.

Methods: A prospective registry was set in São Paulo, Brazil, enrolling all patients with a diagnosis of TBI that require admission to the intensive care unit. We evaluated the following predictors: gender, age, pupil reactivity at admission, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), presence of hypoxia and hypotension, computed tomography findings, trauma severity score, and laboratory results.

Results: Overall mortality at 14 days was 22.8%. Models had a high prediction performance, with the best prediction for overall mortality achieved through Naive Bayes (area under the curve = 0.906). The most significant predictors were the GCS at admission and prehospital GCS, age, and pupil reaction. When predicting the length of stay at the intensive care unit, the Conditional Inference Tree model had the best performance (root mean square error = 1.011), with the most important variable across all models being the GCS at scene.

Conclusions: Models for early mortality and hospital length of stay using Machine Learning can achieve high performance when based on registry data even in LMICs. These models have the potential to inform treatment decisions and counsel family members.

Incidence of progressive hemorrhagic injury in patients presenting with traumatic brain injury at a large tertiary care hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. A Case Series.

Objectives: Our study aims to determine the frequency of progressive hemorrhagic injury as observed on the CT scan from the initial scan performed at the time of presentation to a subsequent one in the 12 hours after the initial scan. Study Design: The type of study is a prospective observational case series. Setting: At Tertiary Care Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. Period: 3 months from June 2018 to August 2018. Materials & Methods: All patients over 18 years of age who presented to the Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital with traumatic brain injury and had a CT scan performed within four hours of the injury were included in the study. A predesigned proforma was used to note down patient findings. CT scan findings were classified as subdural hematoma (SDH), intraparenchymal contusion (IPC) extradural hematoma (EDH) and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). A repeat CT scan was performed twelve hours after the initial CT scan. Data were analyzed using IBM SPSS version 20.0, mean and frequencies were calculated for continuous variables while frequencies and percentages were calculated for categorical variables. Results: Of the n= 110 patients in our study 79 were males and 31 were female, the mean age of the patients was 34.25 years. The Glasgow Coma Scale scores at the time of arrival were between thirteen and fifteen for n= 33 (30%) of the patients, between nine and twelve for n= 54 (49.09%) of the patients, less than and equal to eight for n= 23 (20.90%) of the patients. Subarachnoid hemorrhage was present in n= 32 (29.09%) patients, intraparenchymal hematoma was present in n= 42 (38.18%) of the patients, while subdural hematoma and epidural hematoma was present in n= 14 (12.72%) and n= 22 (20%) of the patients respectively. Progressive hemorrhagic injury was found in n= 66 (60%) of the patients, while in n= 11 (10%) of the patients there was resolution of the lesion and n= 33 (33%) of the patients showed no observable changes in the repeat CT scan. Finally, our results indicate that of the 110 patients in our study PHI was seen in n= 17 (53.12%) patients with SAH, n= 18 (81.81%) patients of EDH, n= 5 (35.71%) patients of SDH and n= 26 (61.90%) patients of IPC respectively. Conclusion: According to the results of our study PHI is observed in 60% of the patients with a traumatic brain injury observed within the initial 12 hours after injury, and epidural hematoma and intraparenchymal contusions had the highest incidences of PHI among all the different types of traumatic brain injuries.