Surgical management of early massive edema caused by cerebral contusion in head trauma patients

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2006;96:3-6. doi: 10.1007/3-211-30714-1_1.


Early massive edema caused by severe cerebral contusion results in elevation of intracranial pressure (ICP) and clinical deterioration within 24-72 hours post-trauma. Previous studies indicate that cells in the central area of the contusion undergo shrinkage, disintegration, and homogenization, whereas cellular swelling is predominant in the peripheral area, suggesting that early massive edema is attributable to high osmolality within necrotic brain tissue and may generate an osmotic potential across central and peripheral areas. We analyzed the effects of surgical excision of necrotic brain tissue in 182 patients with cerebral contusion registered with Japan Neurotrauma Data Bank; 121 patients (66%; Group I) were treated conservatively, and 61 (34%; Group II) were treated surgically. Most Group II cases (90%) underwent complete excision of necrotic brain tissue and evacuation of clots. Group I demonstrated higher mortality at 6 months post-trauma compared to Group II (48%) vs. 23%; p = 0.0001; n = 182). Striking differences were observed in patients scoring 9 or more on Glasgow Coma Scale at admission (56% vs. 17%); p = 0.017; n = 45) and demonstrated "talk-and-deteriorate" (64% vs. 22%: p = 0.026; n = 29), supporting our hypothesis that early massive edema is caused by cerebral contusion accompanied by necrotic brain tissue, indicating that surgical excision of necrotic brain tissue provides satisfactory control of progressive elevation in ICP and clinical deterioration in many cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Edema / mortality*
  • Brain Edema / surgery*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / mortality*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / surgery*
  • Craniotomy / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Prognosis
  • Recovery of Function
  • Registries*
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome