Objective: To evaluate today's refined neurosurgical intensive care of patients with traumatic brain injury after implementation of an organized secondary insult program focused on the importance of avoiding secondary brain damage together with a standardized treatment protocol system.
Design: Clinical observational patient study.
Patients: A total of 154 patients 16-79 yrs of age with acute head trauma and pathologic computed tomographic findings treated between 1996 and 1997.
Setting: Neurointensive care unit.
Measurements and main results: Good recovery was obtained in 44% of the patients, moderate disability in 35%, severe disability in 16%, and no patient remained in a vegetative state. Six percent of the patients died, but only two of these patients (1.3%) died as direct result of their head injury. When the results for patients with Glasgow Coma Scale motor scores of >or=4 were compared with the periods 1980-1981 (preneurosurgical intensive care) and 1987-1988 (basic neurosurgical intensive care), mortality had decreased from 40% in the first period to 27% in the second period and to 2.8% in the present series. Favorable outcome in the same group of patients had increased steadily from 40% in the first period, to 68% in the second period, and finally, to 84% in the present series.
Conclusions: The main observation in this hospital series of traumatic brain injury patients was a low rate of death directly caused by head injury and a high rate of favorable outcome. The comparison of patients with Glasgow Coma Scale motor scores of >or=4 with the previously reported results from the same unit indicate that substantial improvement in outcome has been achieved.