Current controversies in the management of patients with severe traumatic brain injury

ANZ J Surg. 2006 Mar;76(3):163-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-2197.2006.03674.x.


Background: Traumatic brain injury is a major cause of mortality and morbidity, particularly among young men. The efficacy and safety of most of the interventions used in the management of patients with traumatic brain injury remain unproven. Examples include the 'cerebral perfusion pressure-targeted' and 'volume-targeted' management strategies for optimizing cerebrovascular haemodynamics and specific interventions, such as hyperventilation, osmotherapy, cerebrospinal fluid drainage, barbiturates, decompressive craniectomy, therapeutic hypothermia, normobaric hyperoxia and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Methods: A review of the literature was performed to examine the evidence base behind each intervention.

Results: There is no class I evidence to support the routine use of any of the therapies examined.

Conclusion: Well-designed, large, randomized controlled trials are needed to determine therapies that are safe and effective from those that are ineffective or harmful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Barbiturates / pharmacology
  • Barbiturates / therapeutic use
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / surgery
  • Brain Injuries / therapy*
  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Diuretics, Osmotic / therapeutic use
  • Drainage
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation
  • Hypothermia
  • Intracranial Pressure / drug effects
  • Mannitol / therapeutic use*
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic / therapeutic use
  • Skull / surgery


  • Barbiturates
  • Diuretics, Osmotic
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic
  • Mannitol