Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the major cause of death among young adults in western countries. In the context of a joint Nordic initiative regarding future management of patients with severe TBI, it was of interest to look into the magnitude of the problem and the most recent developments.
Material and methods: We have conducted a survey of the epidemiological aspects of TBI deaths in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden for the period 1987-2000. Data were retrieved from the official statistical agencies in the four countries. We have also collected data on the number of operations for acute TBI in the year 2000 from all Nordic hospitals admitting trauma patients.
Results: There were almost twice as many deaths from TBI in Finland as in the other Nordic countries. The median mortality rate in Finland was 21.2 per 100,000 per year. The corresponding figures for Denmark were 12.8, Norway 10.5 and Sweden 9.8. Finland also had almost twice as many operations for acute TBI with 10.0 per 100,000 per year, versus 5.1 in Denmark, 4.8 in Norway and 5.7 in Sweden. The mortality rate was about three times higher among males than among females. All countries except Finland had a significant reduction in TBI deaths during the study period. The mortality rate from injuries other than TBI was more or less the same in all four countries.
Interpretation: Our findings imply that there are twice as many severe TBIs and related deaths in Finland compared with the other Nordic countries.