The Effect of Implementation of Guidelines for the Management of Severe Head Injury on Patient Treatment and Outcome
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¶ The authors retrospectively analysed two groups of consecutive patients who were similarly matched for brain injury severity. From a total of 39 severe head injury patients, 23 were treated according to the Guidelines for the Management of Severe Head Injury with intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring (“Guidelines group”). Such an approach allowed the maintenance of ICP within normal values, especially in patients with intraventricular ICP monitoring allowing the release of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the ventricular system. In the Guidelines group only two patients were administered barbiturates, after all other means of ICP lowering had been exhausted. The second group consisted of 16 patients who were not monitored for ICP (“non-Guidelines group”). In this group, management consisted of the prophylactic administration of barbiturates, high dose osmotic diuretics and hyperventilation usually at levels below 25 mm Hg.
In the Guidelines group the mortality rate was 30% compared to 44% in the non-Guidelines group. Almost twice as many patients achieved a “favourable” (good recovery and moderate disability) outcome (49%) compared to the non-Guidelines treated patients (25%). Furthermore, there was a 32% decrease in severe neurological disabilities in those patients in the Guidelines group.
It seems that the implementation of “Guidelines” in the treatment of severe head injury, based on the result of our clinical study, reduces death and disability rates in patients with severe head injury. The administration of therapy based on the “Guidelines principles” and monitoring of ICP, can minimise the application of those therapeutic modalities (barbiturate coma and prolonged hyperventilation) which, in addition to favourable effects, may also have harmful effects on patients with severe head injury.
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